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Parihaka
27 Oct 15,, 05:28
Oregon judge fines Christian bakers $135,000 for refusing to bake a gay ‘wedding’ cake (https://www.lifesitenews.com/news/oregon-judge-fines-christian-bakers-135000-for-refusing-to-bake-a-gay-weddi)

Homosexuality , Oregon , Religious Freedom , Same-Sex 'Marriage' , Sweet Cakes By Melissa

GRESHAM, OR, April 27, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) – An Oregon Christian family has been fined $135,000 for refusing to participate in a homosexual “wedding” ceremony.

Aaron and Melissa Klein ran “Sweet Cakes by Melissa” for seven years in the notoriously left-wing environment of Portland, Oregon. But on January 17, 2013, a lesbian woman asked the Christian couple to bake a cake for their homosexual “marriage” ceremony.

Upon learning the ceremony would be for two women, Aaron said, “I’m sorry. I hope I didn’t waste your time, but we don’t do same-sex marriages” based on his belief in the Bible.

Rachel Bowman-Cryer stormed out. Klein said that later that day, her mother confronted him inside his bakery, saying that “truth had changed” for her.

“She told me that I needed to read my Bible,” he told CNSNews, “and I quoted Leviticus 20:13, at which point she told me I was wrong, and stormed out.”

The next thing the couple knew, Oregon officials had informed them they faced prosecution for violating state law.

Laurel Bowman-Cryer, who is now “married” to Rachel, sent a complaint to the state, saying that Klein “proceeded to say we were abominations unto the lord” (sic). “This is absolutely unacceptable.”

In a subsequent report, the lesbian couple claimed the incident left them feeling “mentally raped.”

They claimed to suffer from 88 separate symptoms of mental anguish – including “surprise,” being “stunned,” experiencing a “dislike of going to work,” and that one or both of them had resumed smoking.

The Kleins, overwhelmed by a social media campaign that led to a lagging wedding business, closed their bakery that September. They briefly moved their business inside their home, but someone broke into their company van and defaced it by scrawling the word “bigot” on the side.

Aaron took a job as a garbage man. They say they are now making about half the income they had been with their bakery.

“Just because I own a business shouldn't mean that I can't have a religious belief and be able to practice my religion in my workplace,” Melissa told The Daily Signal, “and I think that everybody should be able to do that.”

State officials said they pursued the case in order to modify the Kleins' behavior and change their decision to uphold Christian values. Oregon Labor Bureau Commissioner Brad Avakian told local media, “The goal is to rehabilitate. For those who do violate the law, we want them to learn from that experience and have a good, successful business in Oregon.”

Versus


Jury Awards $240,000 to Muslim Truck Drivers In EEOC Religious Discrimination Suit (http://www.eeoc.gov/eeoc/newsroom/release/10-22-15b.cfm)
Star Transport Fired Truckers for Refusing to Transport Alcohol, Federal Agency Charged

CHICAGO - A federal jury in Peoria, Ill., has awarded $240,000 to two Somalian-American Muslims who were fired from their jobs as truck drivers at Star Transport, an over-the-road trucking company, when they refused to transport alcohol because it violated their religious beliefs, according to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), which brought the case. The trial started on Oct. 19, and the jury returned its verdict the next day after 45 minutes of deliberation.

Judge James E. Shadid, the chief judge of the U.S. District Court for the Central District of Illinois, found in favor of EEOC after Star Transport admitted liability in March 2015. The resulting trial was to determine compensatory and punitive damages and back pay. The jury awarded Mahad Abass Mohamed and Abdkiarim Hassan Bulshale $20,000 each in compensatory damages and $100,000 each in punitive damages. Judge Shadid awarded each approximately $1,500 in back pay.

EEOC alleged that in 2009, Star Transport fired Mohamed and Bulshale after they were required to transport alcohol. Both men told Star Transport that they believed doing so would violate their religious beliefs under Islamic law.

EEOC also alleged that Star Transport could have but failed to accommodate the truckers' religious beliefs, as required by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. EEOC filed suit (EEOC v. Star Transport, Inc., No. 13-cv-1240) in U.S. District Court for the Central District of Illinois in Peoria in May 2013.

"EEOC is proud to support the rights of workers to equal treatment in the workplace without having to sacrifice their religious beliefs or practices," said EEOC General Counsel David Lopez. "This is fundamental to the American principles of religious freedom and tolerance."

The case was litigated by EEOC Trial Attorneys Aaron DeCamp and June Calhoun and Supervisory Trial Attorney Diane Smason.

Calhoun said, "This is an awesome outcome. Star Transport failed to provide any discrimination training to its human resources personnel, which led to catastrophic results for these employees. They suffered real injustice that needed to be addressed. By this verdict, the jury remedied the injustice by sending clear messages to Star Transport and other employers that they will be held accountable for their unlawful employment practices. Moreover, they signaled to Mr. Mohamed and Mr. Bulshale that religious freedom is a right for all Americans."

Smason stated, "We are pleased that the jury recognized that these - and all - employees are entitled to observe and practice their faith, no matter what that might be."

Bulshale commented, "This case makes me proud to be American."

EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about EEOC is available on its website, www.eeoc.gov.


*Thread name shamelessly stolen from Small Dead Animals blog

Pedicabby
27 Oct 15,, 13:16
40461

TopHatter
27 Oct 15,, 17:54
Typical...so typical.

tbm3fan
27 Oct 15,, 18:33
They claimed to suffer from 88 separate symptoms of mental anguish – including “surprise,” being “stunned,” experiencing a “dislike of going to work,” and that one or both of them had resumed smoking.


Oh, poor babies. Now if they had spit in your face would you be suing for 109 separate symptoms of mental anguish...?

Gun Grape
28 Oct 15,, 05:09
Pari

Not sure what point you are trying to make.

Having run a business before, I understand that there are things I would like to do, but cannot by law. And thats is part of the agreement you make with the government when you get a business licence.

I cannot discriminate against either client/customer or my workers. And there are laws protecting their rights that keep me from doing so. Both of these business owners were in the wrong.

Parihaka
28 Oct 15,, 11:16
Pari

Not sure what point you are trying to make.

Having run a business before, I understand that there are things I would like to do, but cannot by law. And thats is part of the agreement you make with the government when you get a business licence.

I cannot discriminate against either client/customer or my workers. And there are laws protecting their rights that keep me from doing so. Both of these business owners were in the wrong.

As a business owner indeed. IMO the point of the two drivers was that they were service providers who refused to provide a service, based on their religious beliefs. Does an employee, contracted to an employer, have the right to refuse service because of their religious beliefs?

Gun Grape
28 Oct 15,, 12:00
As a business owner indeed. IMO the point of the two drivers was that they were service providers who refused to provide a service, based on their religious beliefs. Does an employee, contracted to an employer, have the right to refuse service because of their religious beliefs?



The truck drivers were not "Service Providers", nor were they a business that entered into a contractor relationship with the trucking company. They were employees. When they brought up that they had been tasked to perform something that was against their religion, the company did not make a "good faith" effort to accommodate them.

The company is required to try to accommodate employees religious practices. If there are other drivers (in this case) that don't have objections to transporting alcohol, then a driver switch should occur.
Thats where the company went wrong. They could have switched drivers and gotten the job done, and everyone be happy. But they didn't.

Now, If all the drivers had objected to transporting alcohol due to religious grounds, there would be no way to accommodate those religious beliefs and the employee could have been fired. With no repercussions to the employer, as long as he could show that he did not single out the two fired employees. It was a task all employees had to do. Religious beliefs are treated just like disabilities when it comes to equal employment laws.

Where I work, because of my hearing disability I will not be placed in a job where I have to listen for audible alarms. There are other employees that can do that. We also have an employee that due to religious beliefs will not work on Saturday. We have enough employees that will work Saturdays. Now if I was the only employee and one of the requirements was be able to detect audible alarms, I could be fired. Same with the other person. If the job description included work on Saturday. And that person was the only employee.They could be fired for not working.

GVChamp
28 Oct 15,, 18:13
As a resident of Illinois, I would be remiss to tell the citizens of Oregon how to govern their own state. However, allowing business owners to discriminate essentially permits a free-for-all: allowing the bakery to refuse to serve a gay couple also allows Wal-Mart not to let gay people in their store at all.

The state legislature needs to craft specific legislation to only allow refusal of service in particular cases. Unfortunately, see Indiana for how that turns out.

You can also carve out exemptions for companies below a certain size, either employees or dollars. This is actually the case at the Federal level.

The Illinois case is a Federal Law: the trucking company actually admitted liability because they are liable. You need to make an effort to accommodate your employees. The trucking company didn't, and, even worse, provided no training at all to their HR department on this issue. That's grossly negligent which is why punitive damages were awarded. And who knows how many other laws they broke...their HR hasn't been trained properly.

Parihaka
28 Oct 15,, 18:39
Interesting, so if I'm understanding this, an employer may not discriminate but an employee can, and the employer must reasonably accomodate that discrimination. How does that gel with Kim Davis and her clerks being ordered to issue same sex marriage licenses and being threatened with incarceration if they did not?

astralis
28 Oct 15,, 19:11
re: the Kim Davis case, note that there were multiple, good-faith attempts to get Kim Davis to merely turn a blind-eye, and -not- force her to issue a license. however, she -wanted- to a "martyr" and rejected those attempts/compromises.

GVChamp
28 Oct 15,, 19:12
Kim Davis is not an employee, she's an elected official. It'd be like the President saying he doesn't want to enforce the laws: we can't fire him, we'd have to impeach him. Or throw him in jail, presuming the appropriate authorities are willing to do so.

But, not an employee, can't be fired.

Note: elected officials refusing to comply with absurd laws is part of checks and balances. That's why the executive branch is a separate branch and judges do not have private armies.

antimony
28 Oct 15,, 19:36
I am sure that GunGrape knows the laws better than us, but the second case seems similar to the Muslim Airhostess who got fired for not serving alcohol. I would be tempted to fire their assess too.

Firestorm
28 Oct 15,, 21:07
I have a question. When the courts rule on such matters how do they define the religious practices in question. Do they take the defendants'/plaintiffs' word or do they check the relevant religious texts?

For example, Christianity may forbid being gay, but does it forbid doing business with gays? Similarly, Islam forbids drinking alcohol but that isn't what the drivers were being asked to do. They were just driving a truck containing alcohol. Are these things taken into account, or is it just what the person(s) say there religious beliefs are?

If the truck drivers professed that their religion states they can't do business with Jews and therefore refuse to deliver anything to Jewish families or businesses, would their employer have to make a "good faith" effort to accommodate that as well? How do you differentiate personal prejudice from actual religious belief?

Parihaka
28 Oct 15,, 22:15
Kim Davis is not an employee, she's an elected official. It'd be like the President saying he doesn't want to enforce the laws: we can't fire him, we'd have to impeach him. Or throw him in jail, presuming the appropriate authorities are willing to do so.

But, not an employee, can't be fired.

Note: elected officials refusing to comply with absurd laws is part of checks and balances. That's why the executive branch is a separate branch and judges do not have private armies.

The clerks in that case were employees though, yet were threatened with incarceration if they didn't issue licenses.

Gun Grape
28 Oct 15,, 23:38
The clerks in that case were employees though, yet were threatened with incarceration if they didn't issue licenses.

Kim Davis was threatened with incarceration for failure to follow the law/a judges order. The Clerks were never threatened with jail. They were asked if they would issue licenses to gay couples.

Them agreeing to do so is what got Mrs Davis out of jail. And not all the clerks agreed. The one that refused did not receive any for of retribution by the Court.

TopHatter
29 Oct 15,, 02:01
I have a question. When the courts rule on such matters how do they define the religious practices in question. Do they take the defendants'/plaintiffs' word or do they check the relevant religious texts?

All depends on their interpretation of their holy texts...which is why so many people are disgusted with organized religion.

Parihaka
29 Oct 15,, 05:49
Kim Davis was threatened with incarceration for failure to follow the law/a judges order. The Clerks were never threatened with jail. They were asked if they would issue licenses to gay couples.

Them agreeing to do so is what got Mrs Davis out of jail. And not all the clerks agreed. The one that refused did not receive any for of retribution by the Court.


After U.S. marshals took Davis into custody, where she is expected to remain until she agrees to comply with Bunning's order, the judge ordered her six deputy clerks to stand and tell him if they would comply with his order to issue marriage licenses, at the risk of facing their own contempt penalties.

All but one of the deputies — Nathan Davis, Kim Davis' son — said they would obey the judge, some more reluctantly than others.

"I'm a preacher's daughter," deputy clerk Melissa Thompson told the judge, crying. "This is the hardest thing I've ever had to do in my life."

Read more here: http://www.kentucky.com/2015/09/03/4018514/federal-judge-jails-rowan-county.html#storylink=cpy

Gun Grape
29 Oct 15,, 11:33
I stand corrected.

First time I read that they were threatened with jail time. It was a hollow threat though, since the one that refused didn't get locked up

tantalus
29 Oct 15,, 14:39
I have a question. When the courts rule on such matters how do they define the religious practices in question. Do they take the defendants'/plaintiffs' word or do they check the relevant religious texts?

For example, Christianity may forbid being gay, but does it forbid doing business with gays? Similarly, Islam forbids drinking alcohol but that isn't what the drivers were being asked to do. They were just driving a truck containing alcohol. Are these things taken into account, or is it just what the person(s) say there religious beliefs are?

If the truck drivers professed that their religion states they can't do business with Jews and therefore refuse to deliver anything to Jewish families or businesses, would their employer have to make a "good faith" effort to accommodate that as well? How do you differentiate personal prejudice from actual religious belief?
Perhaps a start would be forgetting what the law is, and asking what it should be...

Personally not impressed with the idea that religious belief should protect the employee in most scenarios. If people have a religious belief that prevents them from being as good or useful or flexible as an employee as a person without that religious belief, the employer should be able to discriminate freely.

A religious person is entitled to any belief and entitled to narrow their job prospects.

Bit more split about what the law should be in regard the wedding cakes. Initially I thought I preferred the idea of allowing the business to discriminate against gays, but if they were doing the same to jews, blacks, women, whites, baseball fans... I can't think of a good reason why they should be able to do that... religion doesn't cut it in my opinion. Mind you I think theyshould be entitled to keep gays out of their private home... does that not extend to privately owned business property???

Its a slippery slope, but there is a logic to allowing the home the protection, but not the business. You can have religious beliefs or personal prejudices against a group (should be treated the same imo) in your own home, but should be prevented by law to extend those into business on public streets, openly into the social network, the logic is for the state to stay off the slope.

Parihaka
29 Oct 15,, 20:08
I stand corrected.

First time I read that they were threatened with jail time. It was a hollow threat though, since the one that refused didn't get locked up

I stand corrected on the differences between employer/employee rights. I'm not setting this thread up as some sort of shit fight, I'm genuinely interested in these seemingly contradictory situations. I'll be posting more as I go on, feel free to do the same.

looking4NSFS
29 Oct 15,, 22:29
There are many ways to look at this issue. If your religious beliefs prohibit you from performing certain tasks, you become less valuable to the employer as they have to work around the issue of your preference, costing time (which is money) and possibly inconveniencing other employees and customers. Do they then have the right to pay you less? So many sequels and branches....

As to not wanting to do business with a certain group of people. I grant you it can and does happen. On the other hand the gay baker who refused to bake the cake for the Christian couple simply looses that business to another more enlightened baker. Perhaps the Islamic baker down the street who caters to strictly to Jewish couples, but decides to take on new clientele. No one is "hurt" except the loss of business to the original baker. If this baker chases enough business away, they go out of business. If they can survive w/o the Christian wedding cake business, then they survive and the Islamic baker gets a new stream of income. Who is hurt in this scenario? Not the Christian couple, who get a cake from the friendly Islamic baker down the street. Not the gay baker, who is happy that he does not have to deal with those Christians he finds so detestable. And especially not the Islamic baker, who gets extra income.

It is not as if there is only one baker capable of making a cake.

Just 'food' for thought.

Officer of Engineers
30 Oct 15,, 07:30
American house. American rules.

It's a whole lot easier to understand this way.

Doktor
30 Oct 15,, 13:00
https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/morning-mix/wp/2015/10/27/amish-man-sues-to-buy-firearm-without-photo-id-in-gun-rights-religious-freedom-lawsuit/
Prognosis?

Gun Grape
30 Oct 15,, 18:36
https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/morning-mix/wp/2015/10/27/amish-man-sues-to-buy-firearm-without-photo-id-in-gun-rights-religious-freedom-lawsuit/
Prognosis?

I don't think it will go in his favor. Like the Florida Muslim woman that sued the State to have her Drivers licence photo taken with her face covered.

http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/news/nation/2003-06-06-license-veil_x.htm

Gun Grape
30 Oct 15,, 18:39
Found this article that explains a bit about religous exemptions

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/volokh-conspiracy/wp/2015/09/04/when-does-your-religion-legally-excuse-you-from-doing-part-of-your-job/

from the article


Can your religion legally excuse you from doing part of your job? This is one of the questions in the Kentucky County Clerk marriage certificate case. But it also arises in lots of other cases — for instance, the Muslim flight attendant who doesn’t want to serve alcohol and who filed a complaint on Tuesday with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission over the airline’s denial of an exemption.

The question has also arisen before with regard to:

Nurses who had religious objections to being involved in abortions (even just to washing instruments that would be used in abortions);
Pacifist postal workers who had religious objections to processing draft registration forms;
A Jehovah’s Witness employee who had religious objections to raising a flag, which was a task assigned to him;
An IRS employee who had religious objections to working on tax exemption applications for organizations that promote “abortion, … homosexuality, worship of the devil, euthanasia, atheism, legalization of marijuana, immoral sexual experiments, sterilization or vasectomies, artificial contraception, and witchcraft”;
a philosophically vegetarian bus driver who refused to hand out hamburger coupons as part of an agency’s promotion aimed at boosting ridership;
and more.
And of course it arises routinely when people are fine with their job tasks, but have a religious objection to doing them on particular days (e.g., Saturdays and Fridays after sundown).


Under Title VII of the federal Civil Rights Act, both public and private employers have a duty to exempt religious employees from generally applicable work rules, so long as this won’t create an “undue hardship,” meaning more than a modest cost, on the employer. If the employees can be accommodated in a way that would let the job still get done without much burden on the employer, coworkers, and customers — for instance by switching the employee’s assignments with another employee or by otherwise slightly changing the job duties — then the employer must accommodate them. (The Muslim flight attendant I mentioned above, for instance, claims that she has always been able to work out arrangements under which the other flight attendant serves the alcohol instead of her.)

Thus, for instance, in all the cases I mentioned in the numbered list above, the religious objectors got an accommodation, whether in court or as a result of the employer’s settling a lawsuit brought by the EEOC. Likewise, the EEOC is currently litigating a case in which it claims that a trucking company must accommodate a Muslim employee’s religious objections to transporting alcohol, and the court has indeed concluded that the employer had a duty to accommodate such objections. But if the accommodation would have been quite difficult or expensive (beyond the inevitable cost that always come when rearranging tasks), then the employer wouldn’t have had to provide it.

Now I’m not saying this to praise the law, or to claim that it’s demanded by vital principles of religious freedom. One can certainly argue against this approach, especially as applied to private employers, but also as applied to the government.

The government is barred by the Free Exercise Clause from discriminating based on religion, but the government has no constitutional duty to give religious objectors special exemptions from generally applicable rules. Maybe it (and private employers) shouldn’t have such a statutory duty, either. But my point so far has been simply to describe the American legal rule as it actually is, and as it has been for over 40 years (since the religious accommodation provisions were enacted in the 1972 amendments to Title VII).

Once we see this rule, we can also make some practical observations about it:

1. The rule requires judgments of degree. Some accommodations are relatively cheap (again, always realizing that any accommodation involves some burden on employers), while other are more expensive. The courts have to end up drawing some fuzzy line between them. Maybe that’s a bad idea, but that’s what Congress set up with the “reasonable accommodation” requirement. So if you want to argue that one religious objector shouldn’t get the relatively easy accommodation she wants, you can’t do that by analogy to another claim where the accommodation would be very expensive.

2. The rule turns on the specific facts present in a particular workplace. An accommodation can be very expensive when the objecting employee is the only one at the job site who can do a task, but relatively cheap when there are lots of other employees. It can be very expensive when all the other employees also raise the same objection, but relatively cheap when the other employees are just fine with doing the task.

Again, maybe that’s a bad rule, but it’s the rule Congress created. And if you want to argue that one religious objector shouldn’t get an accommodation that’s easy at the objector’s job site, you can’t do that by pointing out that the accommodation would be expensive at other job sites.

3. The rule accepts the risk of insincere objections. Of course, when sincere religious objectors can get an exemption, others can ask for the same exemption even just for convenience rather than from religious belief. That’s not much of a problem for many exemption requests, since most people have no personal, self-interested reasons not to transport alcohol on their trucks, or raising an American flag on a flagpole. But for some accommodations, there is a risk of insincere claims, for instance when someone just wants Saturdays off so he can do fun weekend things. The law assumes that employers will be able to judge employees’ sincerity relatively accurately, and to the extent some insincere objections are granted, this won’t be too much of a problem. Again, the law might be wrong on this, but it’s the law.

4. The rule accepts the risk of slippery slopes, and counts on courts to stop the slippage. Once some people get a religious exemption, others are likely to claim other religious exemptions; indeed, some people who before managed to find a way to live with their religious objections without raising an accommodation request might now conclude that they need to be more militant about their beliefs. Here too, the law accepts this risk, and counts on courts to cut off the more expensive accommodations.

5. The rule rejects the “you don’t like the job requirements, so quit the job” argument. Again, that argument is a perfectly sensible policy argument against having a Title VII duty of religious accommodation. It’s just an argument that religious accommodation law has, rightly or wrongly, rejected.

6. The rule focused on what specific accommodations are practical. If someone demands as an accommodation that a company completely stop shipping alcohol, that would be an undue hardship for an employer. But if it’s possible to accommodate the person by just not giving him the relatively rare alcohol-shipping orders, then that might well not be an undue hardship.

* * *

OK, now we’ve seen the big picture, which is that sincere religious objections can indeed legally excuse you from doing part of your job — if the employer can exempt you without undue cost to itself, its other employees, or its clients (recognizing that some cost is inevitable with any exemption request). Now let’s try to see how it can apply to the Kim Davis controversy.

First, a technical but important legal point: Title VII expressly excludes elected officials. But Kentucky, like about 20 other states, has a state Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) statute that requires government agencies to exempt religious objectors from generally applicable laws, unless denying the exemption is the least restrictive means of serving a compelling government interest. The federal government also has a RFRA, which may apply to federal court orders issued to state elected officials.

Such RFRAs are narrower than Title VII (they apply only to the government) but also broader (they apply not just to employment but to all government action). Nothing in them exempts accommodation claims by elected officials. Moreover, the 1963-90 Free Exercise Clause rules that the RFRAs were meant to restore included protections for elected officials, see McDaniel v. Paty (1978); though McDaniel involved a rule that discriminated against religious practice, the plurality opinion treated it as a standard religious exemption request.

The terms of these RFRAs actually seem to offer greater protection for claimants — to deny an exemption, the government must show not just “undue hardship” but unavoidable material harm to a “compelling government interest.” Tagore v. United States (5th Cir. 2013) illustrates this: When Sikh IRS agent Kawaljeet Tagore sought a religious exemption from IRS’s no-weapons-in-the-workplace policy for her kirpan (a 3-inch dulled symbolic dagger), the court concluded that accommodating the request was an “undue hardship,” but allowed the RFRA claim to go forward, so that the trial court could determine whether denying the exemption “furthers a compelling government interest with the least restrictive means.” On the other hand, Harrell v. Donahue (8th Cir. 2011) took the view that, at least as to federal employees, RFRA provided no protections beyond those offered by Title VII.

The Kentucky appellate courts have had no occasion to interpret the Kentucky RFRA yet (it was enacted in 2013), and I don’t know of cases under other state RFRAs dealing with government employees or elected officials. But it’s very likely that (1) the Kentucky RFRA, by its terms, would apply to religious exemption claims brought by elected officials, and (2) it would provide at least the protections offered to ordinary employees by the Title VII religious accommodation regime, and possibly more.