Religious Discrimination

Article excerpt

RELIGIOUS DISCRIMINATION. In a recent appellate decision, the court ruled that a company that allowed an employee to keep religious material posted in her cubicle was not liable for religious discrimination. The material did not violate company policy, ruled the court, and the company cannot be forced to suppress all religious material in the workplace just because it offends a single employee.

Victoria Kreutz and Tammy Powell were both employed by Yellow Book USA and worked in adjacent cubicles. After several months of working together, Kreutz converted to Christianity. She began to tell Powell about her religious beliefs. Powell told Kreutz that she was not interested in religious matters.

Several months later, Powell notified her manager that Kreutz was still proselytizing. The company's manager of corporate employer relations met with Kreutz and told her that she was not to discuss or bring up religious matters with Powell either in person or via e-mail.

Powell also complained that Kreutz had religious materials and sayings posted in her cubicle. Managers reviewed the materials and found that they did not violate company policy and allowed Kreutz to keep them posted.

Despite the company's action, Powell continued to feel uncomfortable with Kreutz's outspokenness about her religion. Over a two-month time period, Powell complained to her manager eight times. On each occasion, management asked whether Kreutz was discussing religion with Powell in any way. Each time, Powell confirmed that Kreutz had not broached the subject with her. However, Powell insisted that Kreutz's religious messages were inappropriate and distracting.

The company moved Powell to a different cubicle across the room from Kreutz, but Powell continued to demand that Kreutz remove the religious material from her cubicle. …