How JustAnswer Works:

  • Ask an Expert
    Experts are full of valuable knowledge and are ready to help with any question. Credentials confirmed by a Fortune 500 verification firm.
  • Get a Professional Answer
    Via email, text message, or notification as you wait on our site.
    Ask follow up questions if you need to.
  • 100% Satisfaction Guarantee
    Rate the answer you receive.

Ask Patrick, Esq. Your Own Question

Patrick, Esq.
Patrick, Esq., Lawyer
Category: California Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 6989
Experience:  Significant experience in all areas of employment law.
60109343
Type Your California Employment Law Question Here...
Patrick, Esq. is online now
A new question is answered every 9 seconds

I work at a non-denominational, evangelical based, non-church

Customer Question

I work at a non-denominational, evangelical based, non-church affiliated Christian school. We are a not-for-profit organization. Our mission is to provide quality Christian education to students. We do not restrict admission based on religious background of applicants. Recently, the leadership of the school has aligned itself with a fringe "Christian" organization about which some of us senior managers feel uneasy. We are being "strongly encouraged" to participate in a conference next Fall that is sponsored by this organization. The board wants our spouses and children to come as well, in order to learn about this movement. I believe this is a departure from our core mission and my question is does the school have a right to tell me what to think and do I have a right, having been employed here for 14 years, to disagree with this new philosophy? Of course, I can quit but I would prefer not to since I believe in the quality educational opportunities that the school provides. I just don't agree with this new ideological movement and would prefer to limit association as much as possible. What are my options? Thanks in advance.
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: California Employment Law
Expert:  Patrick, Esq. replied 2 years ago.
Hello and thank you so much for entrusting me to answer your question. I completely understand your concerns in regard to the direction that your school is taking.

Unfortunately, the laws in this area strongly favor the employer. Absent an employment contract guaranteeing you employment for a specified period of time, you are what is known as an "at will" employee. More specifically, California Labor Code Section 2922 provides that: "employment, having no specified term, may be terminated at the will of either party on notice to the other."

What this means is that your employer is free to terminate you for any reason whatsoever, even a reason that is entirely unfair, such as not participating in an employer-sponsored conference, unless the underlying motivation is discriminatory or otherwise in violation of California law.

An employee is of course free to disagree with the new philosphy and direction that his or her employer is headed, but that employer would also be free to release the employee assuming none of the above exceptions to at will employment apply.

It may be possible to argue that termination for failure to adopt the school's new theological direction constitutes discrimination. However, religious-based organizations enjoy certain immunities from such claims pursuant to federal law. Specifically, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act section 703 permits discrimination in hiring and firing when the nature of a particular job is such that an employer legitimately requires a person of a particular religion or faith. Put another way, section 703 provides that if a “bona fide occupational requirement” of a position includes certain religious beliefs, an employer can refuse to employe anyone other than a person who holds the required beliefs.

Now, of course there would be some question as to whether a refusal to adopt the particular new "direction" of the school would qualify as a religious belief that is essential to your position, but the possibility that this exception would apply still very much exists.

So to summarize, an "at will" employee can typically be terminated for any reason or no reason, including refusing to attend an employer-sponsored conference or adopt the new ideological direction of the organization. Termination on the basis of a difference in religious views may qualify as "discrimination," but an organization is permitted to engage in such discriminatory practice if a particular religious view is a bona fide occupational requirement.

If you have any questions or concerns whatsoever regarding my answer, please do not hesitate to ask for clarification.

I sincerely hope that this information helps you and I wish you the very best of luck. Bear in mind that none of the above constitutes legal advice nor is any attorney client relationship created between us.

Please abide by the honor code of this website by kindly clicking on the GREEN ACCEPT button if my answer has been helpful to you. Thank you very much.

JustAnswer in the News:

 
 
 
Ask-a-doc Web sites: If you've got a quick question, you can try to get an answer from sites that say they have various specialists on hand to give quick answers... Justanswer.com.
JustAnswer.com...has seen a spike since October in legal questions from readers about layoffs, unemployment and severance.
Web sites like justanswer.com/legal
...leave nothing to chance.
Traffic on JustAnswer rose 14 percent...and had nearly 400,000 page views in 30 days...inquiries related to stress, high blood pressure, drinking and heart pain jumped 33 percent.
Tory Johnson, GMA Workplace Contributor, discusses work-from-home jobs, such as JustAnswer in which verified Experts answer people’s questions.
I will tell you that...the things you have to go through to be an Expert are quite rigorous.
 
 
 

What Customers are Saying:

 
 
 
  • Mr. Kaplun clearly had an exceptional understanding of the issue and was able to explain it concisely. I would recommend JustAnswer to anyone. Great service that lives up to its promises! Gary B. Edmond, OK
< Last | Next >
  • Mr. Kaplun clearly had an exceptional understanding of the issue and was able to explain it concisely. I would recommend JustAnswer to anyone. Great service that lives up to its promises! Gary B. Edmond, OK
  • My Expert was fast and seemed to have the answer to my taser question at the tips of her fingers. Communication was excellent. I left feeling confident in her answer. Eric Redwood City, CA
  • I am very pleased with JustAnswer as a place to go for divorce or criminal law knowledge and insight. Michael Wichita, KS
  • PaulMJD helped me with questions I had regarding an urgent legal matter. His answers were excellent. Three H. Houston, TX
  • Anne was extremely helpful. Her information put me in the right direction for action that kept me legal, possible saving me a ton of money in the future. Thank you again, Anne!! Elaine Atlanta, GA
  • It worked great. I had the facts and I presented them to my ex-landlord and she folded and returned my deposit. The 50 bucks I spent with you solved my problem. Tony Apopka, FL
  • Wonderful service, prompt, efficient, and accurate. Couldn't have asked for more. I cannot thank you enough for your help. Mary C. Freshfield, Liverpool, UK
 
 
 

Meet The Experts:

 
 
 
  • LawTalk

    Attorney

    Satisfied Customers:

    933
    I have 30 years of experience in the practice of law, including employment law and discrimination law.
< Last | Next >
  • http://ww2.justanswer.com/uploads/LA/LawTalk/2012-6-6_17379_LawTalk.64x64.JPG LawTalk's Avatar

    LawTalk

    Attorney

    Satisfied Customers:

    933
    I have 30 years of experience in the practice of law, including employment law and discrimination law.
  • http://ww2.justanswer.com/uploads/MU/multistatelaw/2011-11-27_173951_Tinaglamourshotworkglow102011.64x64.jpg Tina's Avatar

    Tina

    Attorney

    Satisfied Customers:

    849
    JD, 16 years experience & recognized by ABA for excellence in employment law.
  • http://ww2.justanswer.com/uploads/PI/PIExpert/2012-7-1_152453_Attorney.64x64.jpg Brandon, Esq.'s Avatar

    Brandon, Esq.

    Lawyer

    Satisfied Customers:

    330
    Has received a certificate of recognition from the California State Senate for his outstanding legal service.
  • http://ww2.justanswer.com/uploads/PH/phoenixrising119/2012-7-26_11214_043.64x64.jpg melissamesq's Avatar

    melissamesq

    Attorney

    Satisfied Customers:

    47
    Represent clients to maximum recovery in employment cases.
  • http://ww2.justanswer.com/uploads/IG/Iggy1001/2013-11-20_23344_JApic.64x64.jpg Joseph's Avatar

    Joseph

    Lawyer

    Satisfied Customers:

    3443
    Extensive experience representing employees and management
  • http://ww2.justanswer.com/uploads/JK/jkiani22/2013-11-18_15348_JacobKiani1copy2.64x64.jpg jkiani22's Avatar

    jkiani22

    Attorney

    Satisfied Customers:

    24
    Attorney
  • /img/opt/shirt.png Legal Counsel's Avatar

    Legal Counsel

    Lawyer

    Satisfied Customers:

    32
    California Licensed Attorney- 29 years- Wages, Hours, Overtime, Discrimination, Wrongful Termination.