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Marsha411JD, Lawyer
Category: Employment Law
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Experience:  Licensed Attorney with 29 yrs. exp in Employment Law
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Is there a possible exposure to a lawsuit if an employer has

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Is there a possible exposure to a lawsuit if an employer has a group of about 10 employees that are always arguing with each other and never seem to be able to get along, and if the employer "asks", but does NOT "force", all of the 10 employees to get together in a private room/office to hear 7 Christian CDs together about Conflict Resolution? If the employer should ever in the future have to fire any of these employees for an unrelated matter, is there a possible exposure to a lawsuit for getting fired due to religion, even though the employer really would have fired the employee/employees for something else? Thank you.

Thank you for the information and your question. Actually the employer has potential legal exposure to a religious discrimination claim as soon as the request is made for the employees to gather in a room and listen to Christian CD's. It is not persuasive from a legal perspective that the employer says they gave the employee the choice to go or not, since the very nature of the employment relationship is about the perceived power of the employer over the employee and also the potential consequences (real or not) to an employee who refuses. Therefore, there is enough just with the request to potentially result in a complaint filed with the Texas Commission on Human Rights and/or the EEOC. That said, without this being a continuous issue (the effort by the employer to have employees follow a Christian route) , there would be no basis for an actual lawsuit unless and until an employee who has refused is later terminated, demoted, or otherwise suffers an adverse employment action. Then at that point, they can at least attempt to allege that they weren't terminated for the stated reason but instead because of their religious beliefs. So, yes, it could be an real legal issue and should be avoided.

Of course, this assumes the employer is not a Christian church or school.

Please let me know if you need any clarification. I would be glad to assist you further if I can.
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