Religious expression in the work place

Last Edited By Krjb Donovan
Last Updated: Mar 11, 2014 07:35 PM GMT

Question

I worked for 20 yrs with the City of San Diego and was terminated for insubordination. My appeal is pending. I was told to remove a fake security camera from my office ceiling. The camera was part of a religious art display with sinage that said "GOD IS WATCHING OVER ME". I had numerous displays of religious art in my office, some controversial, but I never had a problem. Others were allowed to display very offensive art in their offices such as figurines in various sexual poses, punching bags that cursed when hit and other simular items. Our offices were as different as heaven and hell. I tried dialoging with them but they wouldn't budge. I thought I was standing on firm ground when I told them that they were violating my Civil Rights according to Title VII. They just ignored me and removed the entire display then later terminated me. According to Title VII, I thought I had rights to religious expression in the work place. What about the employer's responsibility for accommedations? They said the camera could make the employees feel like they were being watched. The employees knew the camera was fake besides we have real security cameras at our facilities and GPS in our vehicles. I have also filed with the Federal EEOC.

Answer

Hi Dwayne,

Sorry to hear about your situation. Unfortunately, I am not allowed to provide specific legal advice in this forum. I will say generally that employers have the discretion to prevent even religious speech that they deem disruptive to the working environment. Your employer probably contends the fake camera cause such a disruption. You obviously have some good arguments to dispute this contention. I suspect you will get a right to sue letter from the EEOC, and can try to sort it out in court. However, I will say courts give a lot more discretion to the government when acting as an employer than it does when regulating the public at large.

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