"I Pity the Fool" - Good Intentions, Faith and Employees

Dear Clients and Friends,
I am writing this blog in order to help our current and future prospective clients and our friends
learn a bit about what we do, how we do it and to share some of the stories and cases our clients
bring to us. I have changed the names of the individuals involved and have not disclosed any
confidential matters. I hope you find the stories and events I write about interesting and
informative.

I wanted to write about a client, “Mr. T” that owned a manufacturing business that employed
hundreds of people. Mr. T was a God-fearing Christian, who believed, along with his wife, that
their business, the customers, and the employees were all gifts to them from the Lord and that they
should use each opportunity given to them to acknowledge the love they had for the Lord, as
Christians and to share the Gospel whenever they could. As a result, they felt that when the
company conducted its weekly safety and production meetings for which attendance by all
employees was mandatory as the meeting occurred during paid work time, it would be good to have
a short five to ten minute homily or story with a Christian meaning given to the workers and to close
the meeting with a prayer.

Now, one employee named “Louie”, a self avowed atheist, said he didn't like the Christian message
and the prayer at the end and that he wanted to be excused from that portion of the meeting. Louie’s
request was denied by Mr. T who said he pitied the fool who tried to skip his meetings, and that
employees were not to be excused because they were being paid to be there. Louie filed a
complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, (EEOC) a federal agency that
oversees workplace discrimination complaints who decided that a private for-profit corporation like
the one owned by Mr. T could not refuse to “accommodate” Louie’s “sincerely held” atheist beliefs
and for Mr. T to refuse to excuse Louie from the “religious” part of the meeting was discriminatory
and illegal Louie being on paid work time at the time of the meeting notwithstanding. Mr. T told
the EEOC to “stick their opinion and decision in their ear” or other body part. Thus, a lawsuit
unfolded with the federal government suing Mr. T’s company. Well, this blog is too short to write
about all that transpired over the next year and a half in the courts, but the bottom line is the
government took the position that a private for-profit corporation could not adopt the sincerely held
religious beliefs of its founders, Mr. and Mrs. T in this case. Our firm argued that Mr. and Mrs. T’s
sincerely held religious beliefs can be and are a part and parcel of the corporation they own just the
same as if the business was a sole proprietorship or a partnership. Since the Christian message was
presented to all employees as part of a safety and production message during paid work time, no
accommodation of Louie was required. I’ll let you guess what the court ultimately ruled, but just
know that Mr. T’s business is still in business and they still have a Christian message or homily
given at their weekly safety and production meetings. Oh, and Louie, he no longer works for the
company.

That’s all I have time for on this our third blog entry. I hope you found it interesting and enjoyable
reading. Please check back for additional blog messages. And, as always, I want to say thanks to our clients and friends. If any reader has a legal matter or question, please let us know by emailing us or giving us a call. If we can help, we will. If we can’t, perhaps we can refer you to someone who can. If neither, well, it never hurts to say “Hello”.

Yours truly,
Jonathan S. Dean
Dean and Dean, LLP