Mandatory Bible Study: At Work?

Just the other day I posted about a religious discrimination suit brought by the EEOC against a Pennsylvania coal company for refusing to accommodate an Evangelical Christian who had been an employee for 35 years.  He was fired for refusing to use a biometric hand scanner which tracks employee time and attendance, claiming that there was a “relationship between hand-scanning technology and the Mark of the Beast and antichrist discussed in the Book of Revelation of the New Testament.”   It may be heading to the Supreme Court.

Now comes a case with a different twist — it seems that a Texas medical practice instituted a mandatory attendance policy for morning Bible study for all of its employees – even non-believers. 

See a problem?

The EEOC just sued alleging that the employer required every employee to “begin each workday with a reading or study of Biblical verses, to include a discussion of how those principles could be applied to the employees’ personal lives.”

A call center employee who practices Buddhism asked repeatedly “to be excused from attending the religious portion of the compulsory meetings.”  She was fired, along with three others who “were fired after expressing their objections or opposition to the office’s mandatory meeting requirements for compliance with the religious expectations of the owners.” 

Looks like retaliation also, right?

These employees sought an accommodation – to be exempted from this mandatory policy on religious grounds.  The employee who opposed the new hand-scanning technology similarly sought an accommodation – he requested to be permitted to use manual time records as he did previously.   


An EEOC attorney commented that: 

“Of course, employers and employees are not required to leave their own religious beliefs at home when they walk through the workplace door [i.e., “Mark of the Beast” case].  

However, the law requires that employers reasonably accom­modate requests to be excused from company-sponsored religious activities rather than firing employees who seek such accommodation.”


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Richard Cohen

Richard B. Cohen is a partner in the New York City office of FisherBroyles, LLP, a national law firm. Richard Cohen has litigated and arbitrated complex corporate, commercial and employment disputes for more than 35 years, and is a trusted advisor to business owners and in-house counsel both in the United States and internationally. His clients have included Fortune 100 companies, domestic and foreign commercial and investment banks, Pacific-rim corporations and real estate development companies, as well as start-up businesses throughout the United States. Email Richard at [email protected]