Although Los Angeles employers cannot discriminate or retaliate against employees for their religious beliefs and practices, many employees still choose to refrain from discussing their religious beliefs in the workplace in order to protect their jobs.
Religious discrimination and harassment still exists in the workplace, and sometimes employees are fired because of their religious practices or for discussing their beliefs in the workplace with co-workers.
After working at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory for 15 years, a Christian computer specialist was suddenly fired in 2011. Although employers have the right to terminate employees for many reasons, even long-term employees, the man believed that he was illegally fired because of his beliefs.
Over the course of his employment at JPL, the computer specialist had discussed his beliefs about intelligent design with co-workers. Those who believe in intelligent design think that evolution did not happen on its own since life is so complex. After engaging in several conversations about intelligent design while in the workplace, the employee was allegedly told by a supervisor to "stop pushing" his beliefs on others.
In 2009, the employee was demoted. He was fired in 2011. The employee filed a lawsuit against his former employer, accusing JPL of wrongful termination. JPL acknowledges that the employee often spoke about his beliefs in the workplace and that some employees had complained about the man's conversations about intelligent design. However, JPL also argued that the employee was fired after he failed to participate in additional training as recommended by the company.
JPL claims that the employee had been warned that he could lose his job if he did not participate in training to improve and build on his skills. When the employee chose not to get training, he was let go.
After reviewing the wrongful termination claim, a Superior Court judge in California recently said that he does not believe the former employee was illegally fired by his employer. The judge has not issued an official ruling, but the judge did say that he believes the employer has proven that the employee was fired for performance issues rather than his beliefs.
Source: The Associated Press, "Judge: Employee not let go over intelligent design," Nov. 1, 2012
- Our firm handles similar workplace complaints like the one mentioned in today's blog post. To learn more about your rights as an employee, please visit our Long Beach wrongful termination page.