The scenario: A worker with sincerely held Christian beliefs wasn’t afraid to let his coworkers know that he didn’t agree with their lifestyle choices. For instance, he once told an unmarried woman living with her boyfriend that she was living in sin.
But things came to a head when the Christian man was told to attend a mandatory training session on LGBTQ cultural competency. All staffers had to show up at the session, which was intended to help everyone understand the motivations of a colleague undergoing a gender transition.
The Christian employee was uncomfortable with the training requirement because the topic violated his beliefs.
As soon as he learned about the training session, the worker posted a message on his Facebook page stating that he would be forced to condone the LGBTQ lifestyle if he attended the session. Then he sent an email to his supervisor stating that he wouldn’t be going to the mandatory training session.
A short time later, the Christian worker was told that a makeup LGBTQ training session would be held and that he needed to be there or he could be fired. He didn’t show up for the session, so he was terminated.
Legal challenge: The crew member sued for religious discrimination.
The ruling: The employer won. The court said the worker was fired for not participating in a required training session, not because of his religious views.
The skinny: Yes, you’re required to accommodate an employee’s sincerely held religious beliefs, but you don’t have to let staffers skip mandatory training sessions because the topic might violate their religious views – just make sure that the requirement to attend the training session applies to everyone.
Cite: Zdunski v. Erie 2-Chautauqua-Cattaraugus BOCES, U.S. Court of Appeals 2, No. 22-547-cv, 3/13/23.
(From the April 14, 2023, issue of HR Manager’s Legal Alert for Supervisors. To start your no-obligation trial subscription to the publication right now, please click here.)