There is a big difference between having a religious belief, and using it to harrass a co-worker. That difference took center stage in a lawsuit between Wal-Mart and Tanisha Matthews, an overnight stocker who was fired after telling a co-worker that she was going to Hell for being a lesbian. Matthews sued Wal-Mart because she believed that she was fired for being an Apostolic Christian.
The US Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit found, as a lower court had, in Wal-Mart's favor, saying that the store has a fair non-harrassment policy which allows the company to discipline belligerent employees as it sees fit.
"Wal-Mart fired her because she violated company policy when she harassed a co-worker, not because of her beliefs, and employers need not relieve workers from complying with neutral workplace rules as a religious accommodation if it would create an undue hardship," wrote the court in its ruling.
Wal-Mart and the courts were right. Discrimination should not be accepted in any form, whether it is based on religion, sexuality, gender, race, or any other personal characteristic. But this is not a case of discrimination. Matthews violated company policy when she verbally assaulted one of her co-workers and attacked her based on her sexuality. Having religious views is one thing, but using those views to personally attack others is an entirely different thing.
This is one court ruling that should be celebrated.
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