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When Religious Belief Conflicts with Professional Obligation

 
 
rosborne979
 
  1  
Reply Sun 23 Nov, 2008 07:55 pm
@Diest TKO,
What if a professional pilot refused to fly east due to his religious beliefs. What if a taxi driver refused to travel down Broad Street. What if a dog groomer refused to work on long haired dogs. What if the chef at the steak house refused to cook beef?

If you can't do your job, then you go out of business or get fired, right?
Thomas
 
  1  
Reply Sun 23 Nov, 2008 08:21 pm
@rosborne979,
Sure -- but you don't have a legal problem. There is no law saying that you have to do your job.
Diest TKO
 
  1  
Reply Sun 23 Nov, 2008 08:32 pm
@rosborne979,
rosborne979 wrote:

What if a professional pilot refused to fly east due to his religious beliefs. What if a taxi driver refused to travel down Broad Street. What if a dog groomer refused to work on long haired dogs. What if the chef at the steak house refused to cook beef?

If you can't do your job, then you go out of business or get fired, right?

That's my point. Maybe I didn't convey it correctly.

My point is that the religious think that it's somehow noble to deny women birth control, but I bet if they were denied medicine on religious grounds that were different than their own, they would be up in arms about discrimination.

T
K
O
rosborne979
 
  1  
Reply Sun 23 Nov, 2008 09:34 pm
@Diest TKO,
Quote:
That's my point.

I know. I was just extending the argument.

0 Replies
 
rosborne979
 
  1  
Reply Sun 23 Nov, 2008 09:37 pm
@Thomas,
Quote:
Sure -- but you don't have a legal problem. There is no law saying that you have to do your job.

I agree. It's not a legal issue, it's an employment issue.

The legal issue might arise however, if someone tries to resist being fired on the grounds of religious persecution (as a result of their actions, or lack thereof).

Way back at the start of the thread Miller wrote this:
Miller wrote:
In many States in the US, pharmacists now have the legal right to refuse to fill any Rx for a method of birth control. While it may be the professional responsibility of the retail pharmacy in question, to fill the Rx, the pharmacist has the moral and legal right to refuse filling the request and is then required if service can't be provided, to direct the client to a suitable pharmacy/pharmacist for professional service.


wandeljw
 
  1  
Reply Mon 24 Nov, 2008 06:23 am
@rosborne979,
rosborne979 wrote:

The legal issue might arise however, if someone tries to resist being fired on the grounds of religious persecution (as a result of their actions, or lack thereof).


There is such a case right now in United States District Court for Northern Georgia: Walden v. Centers for Disease Control.

Marcia Walden, a professional counselor for CDC employees, was fired by CDC in 2007 for referring a lesbian patient to another counselor. Walden felt that counseling someone about a same-sex relationship conflicted with her religious belief. She is now suing CDC in federal court over employment discrimination based on religion.
rosborne979
 
  1  
Reply Mon 24 Nov, 2008 07:02 am
@wandeljw,
Quote:
She is now suing CDC in federal court over employment discrimination based on religion.

Well then, based on the discussion we've had so far, I think she should lose the case.

If she wins, then it seems like it might allow taxi drivers to refuse to drive on Broad St (something which has always worried me) if it conflicts with their religion.
Bella Dea
 
  1  
Reply Mon 24 Nov, 2008 07:43 am
Birth control pills are used for things other than birth control.

There are a variety of conditions that are helped by taking the hormone.

0 Replies
 
Thomas
 
  1  
Reply Mon 24 Nov, 2008 08:01 am
@rosborne979,
rosborne wrote:
If she wins, then it seems like it might allow taxi drivers to refuse to drive on Broad St (something which has always worried me) if it conflicts with their religion.

As it happens, I have encountered this behavior quite frequently from Taxi drivers in New York. If they don't want to drive where you want to go -- for any reason, or no reason at all -- you're out of luck You'll have to get another taxi. I don't know if it's legally okay for them to do this, but it seems to be fairly common practice.
Thomas
 
  1  
Reply Mon 24 Nov, 2008 08:14 am
@rosborne979,
rosborne979 wrote:
Well then, based on the discussion we've had so far, I think she should lose the case.

I think the outcome should depend on the details of the case, and should inolve a balancing test: One side of the balance would be the inconvenience to Mrs Walden of counseling in a matter that she felt she couldn't give good counsel in. The other side would be the inconvenience to the gay couple of being counseled by somebody else.

In my opinion, Mrs Walden should lose the case if her refusal meant that the couple couldn't get counsel, or had to wait inconveniently long, or drive inconveniently far, or incur any other substantial burden. She should win the case if her refusal led to the couple being counseled in room 419 instead of room 420 of the same office building.
0 Replies
 
rosborne979
 
  1  
Reply Mon 24 Nov, 2008 08:19 am
@Thomas,
Quote:
As it happens, I have encountered this behavior quite frequently from Taxi drivers in New York. If they don't want to drive where you want to go -- for any reason, or no reason at all -- you're out of luck You'll have to get another taxi. I don't know if it's legally okay for them to do this, but it seems to be fairly common practice.

I hope you know I was kidding with my previous remark on Taxi Drivers refusing to drive down Broad St.

To me this is all just an employment issue. If you can't fulfill the requirements of the job, then I think the management has the right to fire you (or not hire you in the first place).

wandeljw
 
  1  
Reply Mon 24 Nov, 2008 09:09 am
Here is a link to a PDF of the complaint filed by Walden against CDC:
http://www.telladf.org/UserDocs/WaldenComplaint.pdf
0 Replies
 
Thomas
 
  1  
Reply Mon 24 Nov, 2008 09:31 am
@rosborne979,
rosborne979 wrote:
I hope you know I was kidding with my previous remark on Taxi Drivers refusing to drive down Broad St.

I'm afraid I didn't notice. I'm slow sometimes.

rosborne979 wrote:
To me this is all just an employment issue. If you can't fulfill the requirements of the job

I think we agree. All I meant to say is that if you refer your patient to the colleague next door, and take one of her patients in exchange, you haven't failed to fulfill the requirements of the job.
OmSigDAVID
 
  1  
Reply Mon 24 Nov, 2008 09:34 am
@wandeljw,
If defendants appeal,
I hope that thay invoke the 13th Amendment,
in addition to the 1st.





David
0 Replies
 
rosborne979
 
  1  
Reply Mon 24 Nov, 2008 10:08 am
@Thomas,
Quote:
I think we agree. All I meant to say is that if you refer your patient to the colleague next door, and take one of her patients in exchange, you haven't failed to fulfill the requirements of the job.

I understand. But I think I would leave it up to the employer to determine if the employee's choices were causing problems for his customers.
Thomas
 
  1  
Reply Mon 24 Nov, 2008 11:48 am
@rosborne979,
Well, what actually happened seems a little more complicated, according to the document wandeljw linked to.

Walden worked for a company that sells counselling services to the Center of Disease Control, a US government agency. She referred her prospective client to a colleague within her company. According to the client, this colleague did a superb counselling job. Afterwards, the client filed a formal complaint against Walden, the CDC asked Walden's employer to fire her, and her employer complied.

To me, these facts present two issues:

1) Walden's prospective client was satisfied with the counselling she received from Walden's colleague. So the CDC got what it paid for from Walden's employer. Walden caused the CDC no harm by acting on her religious convictions. Given that, what legitimate reason did the CDC have to request Walden's firing? How is this not retaliation against an inconvenient religious stand Walden took?

2) It isn't clear that Walden's actions caused harm to her employer. They didn't investigate whether she could have taken other clients instead. Given that there is no clear showing of harm, what legitimate reason did Walden's employer have for firing her? I realize that this is America. Walden's employment might have been "at will", so her employer might have been able to fire her for any reason, or for no reason at all. Still, it isn't clear from the documents that Walden's behavior affected her employer, so it isn't clear that the employer had a reason to fire her.

It'll be interesting to read the defendants' side of the story.
wandeljw
 
  1  
Reply Mon 24 Nov, 2008 11:55 am
@Thomas,
Thomas,
I read somewhere that Walden was fired for being "unprofessional".
Thomas
 
  1  
Reply Mon 24 Nov, 2008 12:00 pm
@wandeljw,
"Being unprofessional"? That's pretty vague, isn't it?
wandeljw
 
  1  
Reply Mon 24 Nov, 2008 12:35 pm
@Thomas,
That is vague. I will try to find the exact quote.
0 Replies
 
wandeljw
 
  1  
Reply Mon 24 Nov, 2008 01:05 pm
I could not find an exact quote but the argument goes something like this: under State of Georgia licensure standards for professional counselors, the definition of unprofessional behavior includes discriminatory treatment of individuals.
 

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