Religion On The Job

The Arizona Daily Star has an interesting article about religious accommodations in the work place, and we thought it brought up some interesting questions about customer service. For example, recently in Minnesota a few Muslim cashiers at Target were unwilling to ring up pork products, causing a bit of dust up in the local media and resulting in the cashiers being reassigned to other duties. Walgreens policy allows pharmacists to refuse to fill certain prescriptions on religious grounds. From the Arizona Daily Star:

The law on this is Title VII of the U.S. Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits religious discrimination in the workplace. It requires employers to make “reasonable accommodations” for an employee’s religious beliefs — “reasonable” being anything that doesn’t create an “undue hardship” on the employer or on co-workers.

We think it’s great and wonderful and amazing that companies make these accommodations, but retailers should probably make sure there’s at least one friendly atheistic heathen-type cashier available at all times. Otherwise, at which register would we buy that gun that shoots pork-based birth control? —MEGHANN MARCO

Religion on the job: Legacy of Puritans resonates today [Arizona Daily Star]
(Photo: cmorran123)

Comments

Edit Your Comment

  1. Esquire99 says:

    I absolutely hate these kind of situations. I’m sorry, but if your religious beliefs prohibit you from doing your job, perhaps you should find another one. In my opinion, I think the employer should be allowed to punish or terminate the employee for insubordination. I think it completely appropriate to not allow employers to hire or fire based solely on religion, but when those “beliefs” interfere with their ability to do business, it goes beyond religion. If I were trying to purchase something at such a store, and they refused to ring me up, that would be the last time I EVER did business there. How is that not a potential undue hardship for the employer? I understand reasonable accommodation, such as allowing people to wear limited religious regalia (turbines, etc), and to allow them time to pray, but to allow them to flat out refuse to do their job? I’m amazed Walgreens allows the Pharmacists to refuse to fill Birth Control. Leave your personal beliefs at the door, and do your damn job. If you don’t like parts of it, find a different job. It’s amazing how religion runs not only the lives of those who practice a particular one, but those around them who get others beliefs forced upon them.

  2. So the Muslim cashiers get reassigned even though all they had to do was call over another cashier but nothing happens to the pharmacists.

    Yeah, that’s fair.

  3. jesseraub says:

    Another situation that happened in Minnesota is that many Muslim cab drivers refused to pick up passengers at the airport that had bought alcohol at duty free shops. The issue was so big that it came down to a lot of firing threats at the time I read the article. I’m not sure how it panned out, but it was a big deal apparently.

  4. acambras says:

    OK, so there are “reasonable accommodations” made as long as they don’t create undue hardship for the employer or co-workers. But what about customers?

    I get a little worked up when I think about how a business’ accommodation of someone else’s religion could affect me directly. Whether it’s antiquated blue laws forbidding the sale of alcohol on the sabbath (although it’s not the sabbath for everyone), a Muslim cab driver refusing to drive me from the Minneapolis airport because I have alcohol with me, or a drugstore employee refusing to sell me a legal drug that their store carries. And now I might have trouble buying some types of food? What next?

  5. ChiefDanGeorge says:

    Man, I sure hope I don’t get a Christian Scientist next time I got to buy some cold and flu medicine.

  6. Havok154 says:

    @bradg33:

    I completely agree. Being PC and having to “accomidate” everyone can become, and already is getting out of control. If you can not do your job for any reason, that should be grounds to fire them. If you have a disability, and “forget” to tell your employee prior to being hired that you can’t lift heavy packages, and your job entails that, the employer should have the right to fire you. The same goes for religion. If you fail to disclose anything that you can not, will not, or must do because of religion before being hired, then that should be grounds for dismissal. If you do disclose it, they should require a signed form stating this so neither party can change their claim afterwards.

  7. esqdork says:

    Pork-based birth control. Yummo.

  8. ptkdude says:

    Call me crazy, but reasonable accomodations should not include employees refusing to fill prescriptions for birth control/RU486, refusing to ring up pork products, or refusing to carry passengers who are carrying alcohol.

    Reasonable accomodations ARE (my company does all of these):
    Providing a quiet, solemn room for Muslim prayer.
    Providing facilities to cleanse the feet, etc., for prayer.
    Providing an arrow pointing in the proper direction for prayer.
    Ensuring non-meat products are available in the cafeteria daily.
    Ensuring non-pork products are not prepared with pork products in the cafeteria.
    Ensuring pre-packed sandwiches do not have cheese already made into the sandwich (it is in a seperate compartment).

    None of these accomodations prevent you from doing your job, while still allowing you to maintain the customs of your religion.

  9. Nemesis_Enforcer says:

    @esqdork: Well in High School we called sex Porking…..LOL

    But seriously none of thier jobs require them to either ingest pork or Alcohol or use birth control. So touching a wrapper that contains said products should not be offlimits. Either do your job or go work somewhere else stop whining.

  10. wreckingcru says:

    An interesting point in the Muslim-don’t-ring-up-pork vs Christians-don’t-give-birth-control


    Muslims cannot even TOUCH pork as it is almost blasphemy – yes, to even touch it!

    On the other hand, Christians can touch and be in the presence of birth-control pills. (Right? I know more about Islam than I do about Christianity, even though I am neither)

    In either case, as someone suggested earlier, a simple “Excuse me, let me get someone else to help you with this purchase” would dictate common sense.

    A while ago, at a Subway sandwich shop, my strictly vegetarian Hindu friend (by religious belief) gently requested the server to change gloves before making his sandwich, as the server had been handling some meat before tending to him. Though the server was a *little* taken aback, he nonetheless complied without any show of defiance or such.
    Easy come, easy go. Everybody happy :)

  11. velocipenguin says:

    @bradg33:

    It’s always great to see people willing to tolerate religious garb such as turbines. Does your tolerance extend to compressors as well?

  12. radiofree says:

    Strange coincidence (or is it Deus ex Machina?). Anyway, Daily Variety has a similar article about religion on film sets today “Beliefs Raise Special On-Set Considerations,” DV, p. A4, 4/4/07). It says in its third and fourth graphs:

    “According to guilds and studios, few, if any, conflicts arise over working on the Sabbath, observing religious holidays, keeping kosher and so forth. Virtually all studios allow prayer groups and other affinity gatherings, and disruptions for daily prayer are minimal…”

    Of course, this does not explain Tom Cruise.

  13. Eric says:

    In my mind it all comes down to whether you believe that your faith is for you or for other people.

    Imposing your beliefs on someone else by refusing to sell them something is the sign of someone who thinks that they are right and everyone else is wrong.

    If they don’t like pork or birth control then they need to work somewhere that doesn’t sell those products.

    I should point out that I draw a distinction between imposing your beliefs on someone and allowing them to practice their religion.

  14. number13 says:

    From Minneapolis: Target also allows pharmacists to refuse to fill certain prescriptions on religious grounds. Poo.

    The Muslim cab drivers here were also refusing to take fares with dogs (service dogs, pets, it didn’t matter), as their saliva considered “unclean”. No resolution yet…

  15. Esquire99 says:

    @velocipenguin: Yeah, I noticed that after I posted it. Thats what I get for quickly clicking through the spell check….

  16. raybury says:

    Havok, religion is not something that should be discussed in the interview process. Period. Even over a decade ago, when I was doing retail sales jobs, the discussion of Sunday availability was usually routinely couched in terms that would have allowed someone to be hired regardless of any weekly religious practices. That said, I worked with a lot of Catholics, who generally can attend Mass Saturday evening or Sunday morning, and so would have fewer conflicts than I did attending church every Sunday morning.

    That said, one shouldn’t put himself in a position to impose the restrictions of your beliefs on others.

  17. adamondi says:

    @velocipenguin: Perhaps turbines are accepted as religious garb, but when I try to wear my nacelle, people oppress me.

  18. faust1200 says:

    If these religious people were truly doing God’s work (in their minds) why would they even work at a place that sold these unholy items? Do these people thrive on conflict? Is this their way to force their religion down everyone else’s throat? I mean when I want my pork-based birth control I want it now.

  19. kerry says:

    @wreckingcru: If they can’t touch it, and the plastic covering of the product itself is not distance enough, may I suggest a couple layers of latex gloves (or nitrile, for those who are allergic) or perhaps some tongs? I’m pretty sure they were in no danger of their flesh touching that of the pig, so where’s the problem?@ptkdude: I wish my employer would do these things. They put cheese on nearly everything, they don’t segregate meat cooking surfaces from vegetarian cooking surfaces, and almost everything probably secretly has meat in it. My coworkers have found ham in their “vegetarian” soups before. It’s not like I work for some podunk craphole, either, I work at a large (6000 employee) hospital. A coworker of mine keeps halal and simply doesn’t eat in our cafeteria, because every item is suspect. That’s no good. I can’t comprehend how someone would keep kosher or vegan while trying to eat here. Oh, and let’s not forget that, since it’s a hospital, guests and patients eat in the cafeteria, too. I complain to Mitch (the manager of the catering services) frequently about this kind of stuff, but he can only do so much.

  20. kerry says:

    @number13: And that’s why I avoid shopping at Target. I went a few weeks ago for the first time in years, I hope I won’t ever need to go back.

  21. raybury says:

    wreckingcru: “I know more about Islam than I do about Christianity”

    I would conclude that you haven’t heard of Jesus, then, because what you “know” about Islam is incorrect. Handling, being around, touching, all but consuming pork or alcohol is fine. That said, I would understand a Muslim not wanting to be a pig farmer or a short order cook. When he or she refuses to carry a passenger with alcohol (in a taxi with a gas tank 10% filled with ethanol, i.e. drinking alcohol) or refuses to ring up a frozen pepperoni pizza packaged in plastic and a box, he or she is not trying to avoid sin, he or she is trying to impose on you.

  22. muddgirl says:

    I think the best solution to this whole thing is for everyone to take a deep breath, stop getting indignant about what other people try to do, and try to have some compassion for other view points. If a cashier finds that they cannot in all conscience sell or touch a product, they should call their manager and have him or her finish the transaction for the customer. If a customer is in such a situation, he or she should have a little common curtesy, and not make a mountain out of a mole hill. Seriously, is this dude gonna starve because he didn’t get his pork ribs?

    (I understand there are more serious cases, like the withholding of birth control)

  23. SadSam says:

    I might, might, respect some of these “I’m religious so I can’t sell you birth control but I decided to work at a pharmacy” if they actually followed all the ‘rules’ of their religion. Instead, they pick and choose which ‘rules’ to follow in a sad misguided attempt to impose their wacky beliefs on me and other innocent customers. You know these pharmacists who won’t hand out birth control all had premarital sex and take the lord’s name in vain, etc., etc., etc. If you are going to be a crazy religious nut please be consistent.

  24. kerry says:

    @SadSam: Don’t forget that they’ll still give out Viagra to unmarried men.

  25. Nemesis_Enforcer says:

    @SadSam: For Real!!! I can’t stand that kind of crap I have a friend who won’t take Birth Control becuse she’s Catholic but doesen’t mind having pre-marital ses with a married guy and having 2 kids out of wedlock. But it’s a “sin” to take precautions so she won’t get knocked up again….

  26. superlayne says:

    @faust1200: That is EXACTLY why they’re doing it. They want to try to show these prescription bearing baby-killers and heathens the TRUE light of Jesus, or something.

    I’m in a heavily religious community. Anything different is met with disgust and distrust. I don’t like it at all, I cannot go anywhere without being prayed at. Technically, the stores have a right not to sell you things, but it’s not in their interest, so you’d assume things like denying perscriptions would be a big no-no.

  27. Nemesis_Enforcer says:

    @Nemesis_Enforcer: d’oh Sex not ses…lol too busy thinking to type correctly.

  28. arcticJKL says:

    I agree that if you cant ethically sell pork products you shouldn’t work in a store that does.

    Store owners should be free to not sell pork.
    Workers should only work in a store that already fits their beliefs.

    The problem is when the government gets involved.
    If the taxis are a concession, or the pharmacy is required by law to sell certain drugs the you have a case where the government is ordering you to act immorally.

    Leave the government out and let the workers negotiate with the employers direct.

  29. etinterrapax says:

    This sort of thing enrages me. If the drug is legal and I have a legal prescription for it and have gone to a public, non-denominational business to buy it, I expect to be sold it immediately. Not sent somewhere else, not made to wait while someone is found to do the job they’re paid to do, not one damn thing but to be given my prescription or my pork or my cab ride. I’m sorry that people find it difficult to observe their religious beliefs in their workplaces, but I’m noticing that while they squawk about accommodation, they aren’t acknowledging that when they have a service job in a non-denominational business, their job is to serve according to the needs of the business, i.e. to accommodate customers. Not the other way around.

    I’m also noticing that none of these complaints seem to be coming from the Jewish community. I used to live in a majority-Jewish neighborhood, and there were kosher bakeries and delis, and Jewish bookstores, and kosher cases in chain grocery stores, and businesses closed Saturdays and open on Christian holidays, and everyone seemed to know how to get along with their own religious practices without all this whining and passive-aggressive proselytization.

  30. gruffydd says:

    I should have taken a picture of it, but while in the drive through at a Taco Bell in Torrance, CA,I saw a sign posted explaining Taco Bell would be closed on Easter Sunday.

    “We will be closed, Sunday April 8th so that we may celebrate with our families the ressurection of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ”

    Clip art of a bunny and Easter egg were shown next to the text.

  31. Jmarsh04 says:

    Sweet Jesus, here is how to win any and all conflicts in the Middle East: pork-tipped bullets.

    How long would the battle in Fallujah lasted if we just carpet-bombed them with Lil’ Smokies?

  32. Edidid says:

    The cab driver issue in Minneapolis is still not settled, just sort of on hold for further discussion.

    This is a philosophical question of when does your personal rights overwrite everyone else’s. Not touching pork is a minor issue in my eyes and fairly easy to work around as long as the employer knows before it is an issue.

    Refusing to sell emergency contraception due to religious issues is a severe issue however. Can a pharmacist refuse to sell an anti-epileptic? I don’t believe they can on religious grounds, but there are religions which do not believe it is caused by a medical issue. What is the difference? Refusing either even though they are legal could severly alter someone’s life even though they have the right to get the items.

  33. chickymama says:

    What is interesting is that birth control has many uses. It has been prescribed to young women (and adults) to regulate menstrual cycles and acne. Even menopausal women will get low dose forms of it, it is just called horome replacement therapy. I find it funny that a pharmacist would automatically judge such a person holding a prescription for birth control without knowing the exact reason why they are getting it.

  34. chickymama says:

    @Jmarsh04:
    Actually, my husband saw a video where a soldier in Iraq was doing that very thing. He was dipping bullets in some pork product, then reloading them into his magazine.

  35. CumaeanSibyl says:

    @Jmarsh04: That was actually one of the factors that touched off the Indian Rebellion of 1857 — rumors went around the Bengal Army that the new rifle cartridges issued by the British were greased with lard and beef tallow, so that both Hindus and Muslims were insulted. Of course, they were already pissed off and ready to kick some East India Company ass, but the rumors really didn’t help.

  36. Yozzie says:

    It was great being the friendly, atheistic heathen-type salesperson at my retail job in a small town here in the Bible Belt – it was the customers trying to lay their wacko doctrine on me that sucked.

    I guess Scientologists would be well-suited to working at GNC, right?

  37. OnoSideboard says:

    I never eat at Chick-Fil-A, despite their nuggets being so yummy, because they used to (not sure if they still do) put signs up in their stores explaining that their stores are closed on Sundays so they can be at church praising God, which is where all people should be on Sunday.

    Now, if the owners of Chick-Fil-A are so deeply religious that they want to lose a full day of business, fine. But when you throw that crap in my face, I lose my appetite for good.

  38. Rajio says:

    there is nothing in islam prohibiting the sales or handling of pork – you’re just not supposed to EAT it.

  39. Goldenthorn says:

    Hi! I lived in Egypt for a while, and I never had a problem with taxi drivers or people on the street when I carried around clearly visible pork products or alcohol. They’d just laugh or sneer (depending on their personal views) and ignore it. Taxi drivers never refused my fare when I was carrying alcohol/drunk. They’d either ignore it, ask me if I had any alcohol to share, or they’d lecture me in a fatherly manner on the evils of alcohol. The people working in stores and restaurants that sold pork or alcohol were happy to have the jobs, so dealt with the proximity of the ‘haram’ items however they personally, internally had to (though I’m sure many were Coptic).
    All (reasonable) muslims with whom I spoke told me that it was ‘haram’ to _consume_ pork and alcohol (and to allow dogs into the home). Nothing, ever, about handling it or being in proximity to it, unless it was a _personal_ choice. Not a religious one. Which is why pork and alcohol were freely available to anyone non-muslim or non-egyptian.
    My point being: the attitude of the cashier (and the taxi drivers in Minn.) is ridiculous. If he/she refuses to handle ‘haram’ items, then he/she should not be working in an environment that entails handling them at some point. He/she is being extremist and push-ily judgemental in an inappropriate environment.

  40. acambras says:

    So I guess if a person working in the pharmacy is a Scientologist, they could refuse to dispense antidepressants or other psychotropic drugs (since Scientologists seem to believe that the whole field of psychiatry is bogus).

    Speaking more generally…
    I don’t go to a kosher deli and request cheese on my pastrami sandwich. I don’t go to evangelical Christian bookstores looking for a copy of the Koran (ok, I don’t frequent Christian bookstores at all, really).

    But at a place that doesn’t have anything to do with religion (WalMart, Walgreen’s, Target, etc.), I am the customer, dammit. I want to know about such a policy so I can take my business elsewhere. And if I’m at a store buying something that the cashier finds objectionable for whatever reason, then they’d better get a replacement cashier right up there posthaste. If I as a customer am subjected to long waits or significant inconvenience, I will stop patronizing that store. And if somebody starts proselytizing or scolding me for something I’m buying from that store, I will raise holy hell with the store manager and/or owner.

    Oh, and the cab drivers who won’t allow service dogs in their cabs? Effing ridiculous. I’m allergic to dogs, but I recognize that the LAW requires accommodations to be made for service dogs. If you cannot follow the LAW, then you should not be doing that kind of work.

  41. Sudonum says:

    @raybury:
    You can’t discuss religion, but you can ask if there is anything that would prevent them from performing the job duties that are outlined in the job description that you then hand them. And if they tell you “no”, and you have them sign the description, then they have just lied to you during the interview which would then become grounds for termination.

  42. astrochimp says:

    bradg33 & acambras:

    I agree that it would probably prove a good point to stop doing business that refuse to sell you something on grounds you don’t support.

    However, as far as the business is concerned, they have to pick their battles: is it likely that they’ll lose more business from you (and others) when you get indignant about having to change lines when buying pork at a grocery store, or from (say) an entire subsection of society who might get slightly more indignant knowing that an employer fired one of their own for reasons they hold dear?

    Rights conflicts are not win-win situations.

  43. syndprod says:

    What would be the problem of having a non-Muslim ring up the pork products in an order? In Illinois, cashiers under the age of 21 are not allowed to ring up liquor purchases (beer, wine, and liquor are sold in supermakets in IL). The cashier would simply call for a “21 on Register 6″ and the nearest of-age cashier would come over and scan the six-pack. Literally – that is all they had to do – drag it over the scanner. So, apply the same thing to pork products. Now, the refusing to dispense an RX because of religious beliefs, well that just is totally wrong.

  44. RandomHookup says:

    @acambras:

    Actually, a Christian bookstore is a very good place to pick up a copy of the Koran (even at a Southern Baptist store). I have experience inventorying these stores and they have lots of stuff that you might not think (even **Catholic** stuff).

  45. yg17 says:

    A lot of people are claiming that all they need to do is get a non-Muslim cashier to ring up the pork, or a non-Christian to fill the prescription. That’s not the point. They should do the same job everyone else is doing and leave their religious beliefs out of it. What’s next? “Working for 30 consecutive minutes is against my religion so I need break every half hour?”

    It poses a huge inconvenience to the customer. I’d be pretty pissed if I needed birth control and found out that my prescription wasn’t ready for me to pick up because a fundamentalist Christian happened to be on duty that day, or if I had to wait 5 minutes for an available cashier to ring up my pork.

    Despite my personal thoughts on religion, I’m all for reasonable accommodations. Given time to pray and all the other examples that have been mentioned. But the second your beliefs start affecting your fellow employees and customers, there’s a problem. If you can’t do your job because of your religion, either get a new religion or get a new job.

    One more thing…I used to work at a Target, and I’m atheist. I somehow get the feeling that if I ever refused to scan a bible for a customer because it goes against my beliefs, I’d be fired. Target didn’t sell a lot of religious stuff, but they sold enough that I’d come across it every now and then during the rare times I was pulled off the sales floor to help check people out when the store got busy, and I never, ever refused to scan any of it. I just bit my tongue, scanned it, and bagged it.

  46. Edidid says:

    After my last comment I showed a mentor this post. She was my boss when I was a teen at an office supply store and a very devout muslim. She is a highly educated woman who decided to be a stay at home mother until her children hit full day school, which is when she started working for the office supply company.

    She mentioned that she applied to manage at such a store because it had no religious conflict with her at all, which was once an issue when she managed a previous store. She also mentioned a large percent of muslim emplpyees locally in the Minneapolis area are refugees who have to take the first good job they can get, which I fully understand.

    If you are forced into a job you haveto make concessions and so does your employer. Sometimes it is simply like calling a temp cashier, but sometimes it is harder such as scheduling breaks for prayer.

    She did say one thing though which struck me. To sum up if there was a problem which she couldn’t reasonably work around in the work place there are options. If you need to follow rules of a religious community then seek employment advice from that community. She being muslim had an entire list of religious organizations she could send employees to that didn’t work out and could give a good recommendation (for muslims and any other religious grup you can think of). Which I think is great advice. Seek out help from those like you if you have an issue.

    To quote her (she is an amazing woman):
    “If your faith is so guiding in your life then you have to put in effort to keep it how you want it. A good paying job might cost more than you are willing to give up. Sometimes that means giving up something you like for somethign you want more, but that is the choice you have to make.”

    Sadly, she didn’t want her name left on a blog so I can’t directly credit her.

  47. othium says:

    If you really want to witness some religious hypocrisy in action, just go eat at any restaurant that has a good-sized “after church” crowd. I’ve worked too many Sundays and heard too many complaints from waitresses about the tiny (or no tip at all!) left by a good portion of them. The way some of these same church-goers treat the staff is downright rude as well.

    By professing to be a follower of a certain faith does not automatically make a person better or “more holy” than another.

  48. djyox says:

    I live in MPLS, and I have so much I want to say here, and I can’t even make a post… Its just retarded. If you can’t do the job you were hired for, then get out of it.

    Religin, thoughts, cares, etc.. ANYTHING you can think of that would make it so you can’t do your job………. STFU and get out… I don’t care!

    I’m atheist, and I think its time I start pushing what I think is right and wrong on others… I’m going to run around and make fun of Jesus, the koran, what ever you believe in… I’m going to laugh and point and call you a “dumb head”.

    I actually had a woman sing to me in the middle of a wal-mart asking if I believe in jesus… Who the fuck are you?

  49. Her Grace says:

    It somehow brightens my heart to know that so many of us Consumerists are atheistic heathen-types. I suppose I’m not surprised–advocating for worker and customer rights is certainly a very humanitarian, equality, fair-play based concept that I’ve found a lot of atheists tend to endorse and practice.

    If you can’t do the job, then don’t do it. A lot of people taking these jobs–especially things like the supermarket work, which is minimum/just above and unskilled (though hard!)–are taking them because they’re the only jobs they can get. I understand and sympathize with that, but it doesn’t mean you get to be a dickhead. What is more important to you: keeping a (possibly not even legit according to your holy text) belief against pork or keeping your job? Work from there.

  50. mermaidshoes says:

    @yg17: good point. i’d love to see an atheist cashier refuse to dispense change because all of our money says “in god we trust.” he or she would definitely be fired–no questions asked, no news articles written, no tears shed. that’s an extreme example, of course, but that cashier could still handle credit card transactions–so why can’t s/he just call over a regular cashier to handle money, or ask customers to pay with plastic so as not to offend the cashier’s non-religious sensibilities? after all, we can easily accomodate religious people who don’t want to touch particular items.

    the idea of providing special protection for religious beliefs is inherently discriminatory against those of us who do not hold such beliefs. the linked article describes how an employer made an exception to its facial jewelry policy for a hindu woman because she wore her jewelry for religious reasons, but would not make a similar exception for a non-hindu individual. that’s nothing but blatant discrimination against the non-hindu woman and her beliefs. there is absolutely no reason why her beliefs should be considered less valid than the hindu woman’s beliefs when it comes to facial piercings. it’s absolutely sickening that people can use religious doctrine to get special treatment while other, perfectly rational, beliefs are completely dismissed because they’re not derived from some ancient document.

    don’t work at a church if you don’t believe in god. don’t work at a pharmacy if you don’t believe in filling prescriptions for which people have demonstrated a medical need. don’t work at a store if you don’t believe in selling the things that are sold there. don’t work retail if you can’t meet the jewelry and makeup requirements.

    while religious freedom may be a right, having a job is a privilege. if you can’t perform, you should be fired. it’s that simple.

  51. El_Fez says:

    “Muslims cannot even TOUCH pork as it is almost blasphemy – yes, to even touch it!”

    Well, that would be fine and dandy if I was handing them a huge slab of bacon or something. But – at least I assume so – the pork was covered in some kind of package, right? Thus – theyre not touching pork, theyre touching pork covered in plastic.

  52. acambras says:

    I got fired from my job at a tittie bar because I wouldn’t take off my burqa.

  53. @wreckingcru: “On the other hand, Christians can touch and be in the presence of birth-control pills.”

    Some Christians — typically the ones who won’t give out birth control — believe that birth control is more or less murder. But more to the point, that giving someone birth control endangers their immortal soul and damns them to an eternity of hell.

    So I think asking someone to participate in an action that damns them to eternal tormet IS asking quite a bit.

    “Christians” is an overbroad category for this discussion, since beliefs about birth control (and being in the presence of it) vary quite a bit by denomination.

    ———

    As y’all may or may not be aware, there is a dire shortage of pharmacists in most areas. So if your store can get its hands on a pharmacist that refuses to fill birth control prescriptions, you’re looking at being able to keep your pharmacy open from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. seven days a week instead of 9 to 5 on weekdays, and a pharmacist who will fill 95% of prescriptions with no problem. Regardless of the handful of customers who will storm out in a huff and never shop there again because your pharmacist refused to fill their Rx, you’re going to be nearly doubling your pharmacy business. That handful of customers will barely make a dent against your increased business.

    Secondly, pharmacists are medical professionals, not “mere” employees of the store or mechanical dispensing machines. In theory they exercise their judgment about your medication and provide the final line of defense against deadly drug interactions. Because they are expected to exercise their judgment and are open to malpractice lawsuits if they fail to do so appropriately, they are, like doctors, allowed a fair amount of leeway professionally in choosing what is and is not within the realm of their professional conscience.

    Given that pharmacists are expensive and in short supply and MOST prescriptions are very everyday, standardized sorts of things, perhaps the solution is not to jump down pharmacists throats for exercising their consciences but to go forward with the pharmacy “vending machines” that have been tested in several places, that are particularly well-suited to prepackaged medicine like birth control.

    As most of you claim to be offended by these religious pharmacists “imposing” their beliefs on you and believe they are deliberately out to pick a fight about it, I’m interested to see how many of you want to pick a fight right back instead of looking for creative solutions to avoid the problem.

    Just because you say “I’m right, you’re wrong, you foolish believers” rather than “I’m right, you’re wrong, God said so” doesn’t make you any less guilty of divisiveness or us-and-them thinking than the self-righteous Christians you’re criticizing. ‘Ware lest you become that which you abhor.

  54. @El_Fez: “But – at least I assume so – the pork was covered in some kind of package, right? Thus – theyre not touching pork, theyre touching pork covered in plastic.”

    Don’t you think that’s a little sophistic? “Oh, I didn’t RELEASE the deadly anthrax disease, I just GAVE it to the guy who released it.” If pork is the problem, covering it in plastic hardly makes it less problematic. “I didn’t grab her BREAST — I grabbed her breast COVERED BY A SHIRT. It wasn’t groping at all!”

  55. Slosh says:

    I say just lie to them – tell them the pork is tofo, say the the birth control is for an experiment, and don’t tell them what’s in your bags.

  56. kerry says:

    @Eyebrows McGee: While I understand the argument that a pharmacist is trained to advise patients on medical interactions and make judgment calls, there are two things wrong with the argument that not dispensing birth control is just a medical judgment call. The first is that many of the people dispensing medications, of the pre-packaged variety, at pharmacies are not licensed pharmacists. They are retail employees trained to work behind the counter. The only real pharmacists are the ones in the back counting pills and approving prescriptions, and those are not the ones ringing up your Plan B and birth control pills. Both of those products come pre-packaged and don’t require a licensed pharmacist to dispense them. Second, I understand physicians who make ethical calls about things like birth control, and I have no issue with that as patients generally choose their doctors. If I was looking for a doctor I would ensure I didn’t go to one who believes birth control is murder, because that doesn’t jibe with my beliefs. When you go to a pharmacy, however, you are not in the position to choose who will fill your prescription. Most importantly, a pharmacist is surely qualified to reject a prescription because they believe it will cause a dire interaction with another medication, and cause harm to the patient. They are not, however, allowed to refuse to fill a valid prescription when no evidence of harm to the patient is present. My pharmacist is not writing my prescription, he or she is not in the position to determine the best course of treatment for me. My doctor is. The pharmacist is only necessary to ensure that the course of treatment prescribed by the doctor will not in any way interfere with other medications currently prescribed to the patient.

  57. acambras says:

    @kerry:

    Excellent points — well put!

    (Although Eyebrows McGee is one of my favorite commenters, I have to disagree with her on this — Kerry’s comment sums up the reasons very well).

  58. synergy says:

    @OnoSideboard: I also don’t know if they’re still owned by these people, but owners of Chick-Fil-A are dominionist/Fundamentalist Christians who’ve been known to contribute heavily towards groups and individuals who push Fundamentalist Christian agendas into government. The owner of Domino’s Pizza used to be a Fundamentalist Christian until he sold off his share.

  59. acambras says:

    @synergy:

    Yeah, wasn’t there a whole Seinfeld episode about pizza and being pro-choice?

  60. @kerry: It’s an entirely different issue with pharmacy techs, who aren’t liable for malpractice and, as you say, are basically retail employees with special training.

    I would make the point again, however, that these are ECONOMIC decisions the companies are making, not moral ones. As long as there is a shortage of pharmacists and pharmacy techs, they’re going to hire whoever they can get and cater to their whims. The businesses in question aren’t making MORAL decisions — they’re making economic ones. And frankly if I ran a pharmacy and I could get pharmacy techs who weren’t a pain in the ass about dispensing legal medications that I choose to sell, that’s who I would hire. But if I’m taking whoever I can get, I’m going to take whoever I can get and put up with their pain-in-the-ass-ness until market demand eases up.

    I have two degrees in Christian theology, I teach ethics at the college level, and I have NO PROBLEM with either birth control or Plan B. If I were the pharmacist, I’d be dispensing. And it annoys me and I think they’re theologically wrong when Christian pharmacists choose not to.

    But I think it goes to a REALLY DANGEROUS PLACE when we start demanding people violate their deeply-held religious beliefs in favor of our convenience, or economics, or whatever. I’ve noticed this as a growing trend, people being hugely offended that private employers opt to accommodate the religious beliefs of their employees even if it inconveniences some customers. The theory of the free market is that those people will find somewhere that provides them the services they want in the way they want, or will fill the niche and open their own place. I don’t understand why suddenly the answer is that religion is verboten and offensive rather than that the market should provide alternatives if alternatives are needed. I also don’t like this implied idea that religious individuals who take religious seriously should absent themselves from public life entirely because they can’t participate in every action of modern American society.

    Finally, I’m quite hesitant to DEMAND pharmacists should dispense anything, regardless of its legality. Pharmacists make most of the reports to the FDA about drug side effects and interactions; there were a lot of pharmacists who knew about problems with, say, Ambien before they became “official.” A lot of pharmacists counseling against Vioxx before that was official. Questions of medical morality and immorality are inherently tied up in questions of efficacy of treatment, and I don’t think we can detangle them by fiat.

    I also think there are an awful lot of unaddressed moral and ethical questions surrounded reproductive technology in this country (not necessarily birth control, but other technologies), and to shout, WE HAVE A SOCIETAL CONSENSUS! YOU MUST OBEY! when we haven’t even had a societal DISCUSSION on the topic is scary. The current ethos in medicine of “if we can do it, we should do it” is ethically terrifying, and it depends on individuals to stand up to it.

    But what troubles me most about the entire discussion is the absolute refusal of so many people to TRY to understand the thinking of the people on “the other side.” The discussion seems to go, “I disagree with their decision, therefore their reasons are dumb.” People have GOOD REASONS they refuse to dispense birth control — Reasons I happen to think are wrong and misguided — but GOOD REASONS, and insisting they obey without understanding why they object is totally counterproductive, particularly when there’s a shortage of pharmacists.

    There are solutions to the problem that can satisfy both sides. But not so long as either side is screaming, “YOU MUST DO IT MY WAY!”

    And in American ethical tradition, we’re a lot more concerned with society oppressing an individual and silencing his beliefs or actions — and that is VERY MUCH what is going on here, which should make EVERY Constitution-Believing American pause and take stock regardless of his or her position on the issues in question. This concept that an individual can oppress society is slightly loopy, particularly given our legal structures meant to protect the rights of individuals to act against the grain of society.

    But if you have that big a problem with it, go to pharmacy school. Or start a drugstore and hire pharmacists who agree with your ethics. The right answer isn’t to run roughshod over OTHERS’ moral or religious beliefs, nor to shut them out of public life, regardless of how misguided those beliefs might be.

    (And yes, I lived four years with the inconvenience of getting my birth control far, far away because my pharmacy didn’t dispense. I still object to insisting others violating their religious beliefs because their religious beliefs make your shopping experience inconvenient. But then maybe that’s because I’m a lot more concerned about moral rights of individuals than I am about convenience of consumers.)

  61. celyn says:

    @ptkdude: point of clarification… RU-486 (mifepristone) is not the same thing as Plan B emergency contraception (levonorgestrel). IIRC, the former is only dispensed by physicians.

    Both were approved by the FDA and were in the news at roughly the same time, which I think explains why many people get them confused.

  62. Her Grace says:

    Eyebrows, I get what you’re saying and agree to a point (namely that, while it’d certainly make my own life far happier and more comfortable if such religious people removed themselves from society, it’s not fair to ask them to do so), but nobody held a gun to those pharmacists heads and told them they had to go be pharmacists. Nobody told the Muslim cashiers they had to be cashiers. They chose the profession/job and should be held accountable for all the requirements of the job, not just most of them. Conservative Christians aren’t being pushed through pharmacy school to be pharmacists (well, they might, but I doubt it). And in pharmacy school, I’m pretty sure they were warned they would have to dispense birth control. I feel that, by continuing their degree, graduating, and finding employment as a pharmacist, they are agreeing to fulfill the duties of a pharmacist; if they had strong moral objections to any part of it, they should have chosen a new career path before they’d washed so much cash down the tubes in pharmacy school. Same basic concept for the cashiers. A simple walk through a grocery store will show you if it sells something you are incapable of handling, like pork, and a logical, sensible person doesn’t then say “Well, they’ll make an exception for me!” They go and find a job in a better-suited environment.

  63. Disgruntled CC Employee says:

    Love the non ranting argument about differences. Congratulations Eyebrows McGee, Kerry, and Her Grace. Since I have mixed emotions about this issue, this has been helpful in moving me along to an actual opinion!

  64. mac-phisto says:

    wait, i’ve got an easy fix here. if you go into a store & someone refuses to ring an item up based on their belief structure, you get it for FREE!

  65. lestat730 says:

    I as well get really mad and upset when I hear about things like this. It wasn’t very long ago that the Planned Parenthood organization was getting people to sign petitions against store employees refusing to sell birth control to people with valid prescriptions (to which I gladly signed.) If this rule of not filling a prescription out of religious beliefs must remain in place there absolutely must be someone there who is willing to fill it! Having the customer walk out of the store without their medication should not be tolerated under these circumstances. The same thing should be applied to the refusal to ring up pork or drive a customer for having alcohol in their possession. I’d be curious to find out if there have been any court case’s related to exactly this type of issue and what their outcomes were. In this country we are all given the right to freedom of religion but what about freedom FROM religion? No one should be allowed to force their religious beliefs on another person under any circumstances. By doing so they are basically trying to take away a persons freedom to choose their own religion (or lack of religion) These products/services are available and freely sold all over the country and have been that way for a long time. That’s never going to change and regardless of a persons beliefs they need to accept this. So how can anyone feel like it’s their place to change that? I find things to more then a little scary in this day and age, it seems there are more religious people trying to impose their beliefs on others then ever before. After all, there was a period of time when every religion out there was persecuted and looked down upon by the general population. So now we have some of the same groups that were oppressed back then with some (but not all) members who attempt to impose and oppress other people with different beliefs then their own. How disturbing…

  66. circumpunct says:

    Hey, if you have a religious objection to putting out fires, that’s fine. But don’t take a job as a fireman!

    Same goes for anyone doing jobs their religion prevents them from doing properly or fully.