Respecting Employee's Religious Beliefs

I have certain rules for myself when it comes to client work, but overall I am open to most work (except things like adult sites).

The other day I had an employee tell me he did not want to work on a project because there was a picture of a product with the slogan “Jesus never taps out”. It related to mixed martial arts.

I immediately told the employee it was no problem (they do great work), and told the customer too, and the customer was understanding as well. Now the project is on track again.

If anything I have more respect for my employee for letting me know about their standards (which are more strict than mine).

Have you faced similar challenges?

Do you talk about an actual employee or a company you outsource to?

The reason Im asking is due to you use both singular and plural references.

If this was an employee of mine, I would have told him/her that the door is over there and if they dont do the project they can leave.

With that said, I dont discriminate over religion, sexual orientation etc. But I do expect that anyone working for me will do the projects they receive, as we are in general very picky on the projects we accept anyway.

Though from what I understand from your case, it could most probably be something we had taken on, as the slogan did not hit me as offensive in any ways.

On the other side, if this is an outsourcing partner it is all put in a different light. In that case I would just let them know its all good, and given the project to someone else. Then afterwards just made a mental note, not to send over similar projects to that company in the future to avoid these kinds of situations.

I wouldn’t just blindly show the employee the door, especially if he/she is a talented and valuable employee I would normally want to retain.

I would try to find a workaround that is acceptable to all concerned.

but if it does eventually come down to the employee having to do the work or be fired over that single issue then whether you admit it or not, you will be disciminating against his/her’s religious beliefs if you choose to fire them.

now whether you firing the employee under those circumstances is legal under your local laws or not is another issue. but if it is illegal then the consequences for you and your business could be dire if the employee takes you to court and especially if he/she goes to the media.

I haven’t worked in a real office in years, but we don’t take hiring lightly. Once someone is given our trust, and shows us they will work hard, we have a full team effort at all times just like would be expected in an office.

In this case, I am making some conversation and seeing about your experiences. I have this situation worked out well. The employee (who works virtually) is on to other tasks, and the customer is getting served well and is happy.

If anything, I really appreciate honesty in the work place, and if someone is not comfortable with a task, I want to know about it rather than them working but begrudgingly.

That’s harsh. I probably wouldn’t want to work or do business with your office if that’s the general atmosphere. I might get the impression people are unhappy there.

Respect is an important part of work and while you do have to get the job done, there are lines that are both legal and ethical. When push comes to shove you may have times where you need to ask people to break their comfort zone on the ethical side, but anymore and you set yourself to lose an employee/ contractor and build team discontent (people who feel passionately enough to say no generally don’t let it go).

On the other side of the coin there’s a very real legal implication. Forcing someone to do something that defames their religious beliefs is not a great idea and when it’s clear that the project is making a religious reference, I’d streer very clear.

The point here really is that this is a good relationship from a trusted person who it doesn’t sound like has every pulled this type of issue before. Chronic excuses are much different than people asking for some respect for their beliefs.

Ted, as always, I love to read what you write and am now following you on Twitter.

In many ways, our employees define our business. We have to listen to their feedback too, and find a way to harness everyone’s talent and ethics into a cohesive team that grows together.

I don’t pick ANY job, since I have my own standards. Not religion related, but I wouldn’t work on something that’s “fishy” so to say. Still, if my employee would have said this, I would have showed him the door too. I do find people are more and more prone to put “religion” into your face, than actually WORK. I am a christian and still work on Sundays. Because I HAVE TO DO THIS and I am not Gates to afford taking weekends off or not work on the holidays.

My team should be able to work. If not, they can gather in their own business teams and work only on religious sites or work 2 days a week, if this is what their religion asks for.

Before working as a self-employed web designer, I was a radio DJ for 10 years. I worked Easters and Christmases. If I’d say “cannot work”, I’d see the door the next minute :smiley:

In the UK it would definitely be very risky to raise any objection to such a complaint, and it would certainly be impossible to fire anybody without expensive repercussions. Regardless of one’s philosophical reaction to the complaint, in the UK the complainant wins this one hands down.

However, that doesn’t mean you can’t resist, or even put people under a bit of gentle pressure - if you think it is appropriate - before bowing to the inevitable. Don’t make it too easy, or people will come back again on other matters, in the expectation that you will roll over immediately.

Giving in too easily to employee demands is weak management, pure and simple, and just stores up endless problems for the future.


Well, that would of course be your decision to take. I must say Im impressed by your attitude, it must require some serious guts; seeing that there is very few medium to larger companies in the world you would be able to work with in that case.

Joke aside.

Im wondering how big the difference in the views a person have about this is depending where they are from (North America, Europe, Asia etc)?

While I for example know this case would not make any hassle in Norway, I can think of other examples that would.
Example: I read in the news a while back that Wal-Mart is removing the overtime payment on Sundays for new employees. Im certain its made some newspaper headlines in US as well but its still legal (at least I assume it is, since a large company as Wal-Mart does it) so there is only the media negitivity impact. While in Norway and most countries in Europe this is illigal by law.

Do anyone know what the average opinion about this would be in US (or any other country for that matter)?

And would the opinion be different if the case was turned around and the person was from a different religion? I.e. same problem, just slightly different angle.

That is a very good point, its vital that you follow the laws your bound to, else this could turn very expensive.

Do anyone know about any case like this that has gone to the court system? Dont matter in which country, would just be interesting to see how different countries handle this.

If you had a “joke” in there, I didn’t catch it. All I saw was your train of thought seeping with sarcasm.

In most areas in the US, an employee cannot be fired for failing to perform work that is illegal, immoral, dangerous, or a health hazard. If I recall correctly, Canada more or less follows this as well. If they are fired, the employee can sue for wrongful dismissal (suing on the basis of immoral work can be up for interpretation, but it does not bar the individual from receiving unemployment benefits unlike with a justified firing).

In our case, it is not something that happens all the time. If one person were constantly coming up with a reason not to do jobs, then we have a problem. Instead, we have a team with varying strengths and we can pass jobs around where needed.

We told our customer the reason for the delay as well, and the customer even agreed to temporarily remove the offending content, but by then we were already moving the job forward.