Religion In The Workplace.

Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about religious requests: Is it legal to ask staff to read a book based on religion and based on a conflicting religion?

Our Corporation a LLC recently hired a proclaimed pastoral counselor, who often speaks about his past addictions. His title is Human Resource Director, and he has handed out cards with PhD after his name. After some research, it was discovered he was never granted a professional counseling license in Missouri. He did get a “Certificate” from his church.

I am a Christian as well as is most of our staff. This man has requested for some of our staff to read a book based on the Toltec religion, titled “The Four Elements”. I was offended as well as others. Is this legal to request staff working in the health care industry to read a book based on religion, knowing they have another belief/faith? This person has questionable behaviors, foul speech and mannerisms. We have researched Title VII and other sites, with no answer to our specific question. Can you help by answering this question? Again, Is it legal to ask staff to read a book based on religion and based on a conflicting religion? Thank You.

Signed, Is It Legal

DearĀ Is It Legal:

Our site answers questions pertaining to communication in the workplace, not legal matters. However, I don’t think there are any laws prohibiting a HR Director or any other senior officer from requesting some or all of your staff to read a book on religion of any kind. Possibly a charge of religious discrimination within a workplace could be made for being required to read a certain religious text if it were an element of favoritism or punishment given to those of one faith over another or no faith. But from what you say, that is not what has happened.

Rather, your HR Director has simply requested that some of your staff read a book titled “The Four Element.” The topic of four element dates to ancient times—the classical elements: earth, air, fire and water. Even if this view of the world can also be found rooted in the Toltec culture, what harm is there for your staff to learn of that. Possibly, this request might be a way to get your staff to think outside of the box and to converse aboutĀ  what makes and motivates.

Even if this text were based on myths and unscientific concepts, what does it hurt to request that some read it? The danger here, most likely is not that you who are Christian will have your faith changed, but that you will gossip about this individual and thus foster disaffection rather than cooperation. A hostile workplace need not be one in which all employees have no different beliefs.

Apparently, those who manage your organization determined that your staff could benefit from “pastoral counseling”. Such an individual could provide employee assistance in a number of areas of psychological health, or if management thought promoting religion was instrumental to your health organization, he might have been employed for that purpose.

The fact that some of you researched his credentials indicates you don’t like him and moreover you disapprove of his foul speech and demeanor. I recommend that you look in the mirror and ask if you are really hurt by any of this individual’s words or deeds. Also ask if you and others are thinking about the real mission of your work organization; to provide the best possible health care? Or have you become distracted from that by saying, “We’re OK; he’s not OK?”

Work is hard enough without trying to put down one’s coworkers. Your question, I suspect, was not really intended to get an answer that challenged those of you who want to find defects in this individual. Therefore, I predict that you will also take offense at my suggestion that there may not be any real harm done by this man. So if you must, dislike this workplace doctor, but please give this individual a fair change to do what has been hired to do.

Loosen up, laugh and love, make each others’ work easier and more effective. Don’t turn your back on him. Cheer him and each other on. Focus on the big picture as if you all owned your workplace. Working together with hands, head, and heart takes and makes big WEGOS. Understand the deeper meaning of that and you will attend to cooperation and not foster conflict.

William Gorden