The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) is proposing new rules for certain federal contractors that the agency suggests will protect the religious views of those organizations.
According to the DOL:
…the proposed rule ensures that conscience and religious freedom are given the broadest protection permitted by law…
The proposed rule is rooted in statute, Supreme Court decisions, and Executive Orders… In keeping with that rich history, the proposed rule would clarify that religious organizations may make employment decisions consistent with their sincerely held religious tenets and beliefs without fear of sanction by the federal government.
Sounds fairly straightforward – right?
The new proposal also states:
…the religious exemption allows religious contractors not only to prefer in employment individuals who share their religion, but also to condition employment on acceptance of or adherence to religious tenets as understood by the employing contractor.
The new rule is seen by many observers to be the result of efforts by conservative groups to push the limits of religious freedom.
Civil rights advocates are claiming the new rule would radically change the decades-old policies that bar federal contractors from discriminating against employees based on their sex, race, religion, national origin or disability.
But don’t religious organizations already have the right to reject employment candidates based on religious criteria?
However, this new rule would allow those same religious organizations to fire LBGTQ employees because of the organization’s views on same-sex marriage or pregnant unwed mothers simply because they are unwed.
Employers could justify their actions by pointing to their religious beliefs, with marginalized workers finding it increasingly difficult to prove illegal discrimination.
Though the courts are becoming increasingly more conservative, this rule may be a bridge too far. Only time will tell.
If you’re an employer and have questions about labor and employment law, including questions about potential employment discrimination, consider calling on the attorneys at Kainen, Escalera & McHale in Connecticut. We do one thing and one thing only – we are an employer defense law firm – in fact, we are one of the largest employer defense law firms in the region. What’s more, each of our attorneys has over 20 years of experience in employment and labor law matters and can provide your business with comprehensive legal counsel ranging from assistance with necessary preventive measures to trial advocacy. Please call us if we can help you.
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