robertmw at MINDSPRING.COM
Mon Mar 2 14:49:50 PST 1998
At 01:57 PM 3/2/98 -0500, Steve Jamar wrote:
>Unless one subscribes to the canard that "everything is political" is a
>law, I don't see how a particular group like gay/lesbian or
>necessarily a political group. It strikes me that groups formed around
>political interests such as "Dittoheads" or "Keep Democrats in Office"
>more analogous to a Christian page. The purpose is political for the
>Dittoheads; the purpose is religious for the Christian group. The purpose
>the other groups could be quite different from political or religious.
Perhaps I do subscribe to that canard. Or perhaps, I should have just left
the entirety of the original message. I edited out Hank's first paragraph:
"I work for a company that has an Intranet network which allows various
internal company-sanctioned groups (women's forum, afro-American cultural,
gay/lesbian -- the usual suspects in the politically correct realm) to have
web pages for the promotion/promulgation of their individual activities."
"Promotion/promulgation" strikes me as "political" which would include such
things as advertising a "Gay Pride Picnic" where featured speakers would
talk about the origins of homophobia. Or a "Black History and Awareness
Meet" where discussion would focus on how the company can improve race
relation, etc. Perhaps my definition of "political" is too broad. I was
making some assumptions here, including what I infer from the original post
that certain messages are allowed only if they agree with the corporate
sponsor's sense of "political correctness."
>It seems to me that permitting some groups but not others to meet could
>a title VII problem - if it can be shown that somehow the exclusion of a
>particular group affects the terms and conditions of employment. I think
>it is a bit of stretch to call access to company sponsored websites and
>matters a "term or condition of employment." What if the company had a
>bulletin board on which employees could post notices of meetings? But
>religious and political meetings notices were not allowed. Is this a term of
>employment - access to a bulletin board?
I think the courts would have little difficulty construing access to the
company web server for your own personal (or "politically correct" company
sanctioned group) web pages to be considered a perk, a privilege, a
benefit, a condition of employment for purposes of Title VII.
>What if it were a fundamentalist Christian secular employer who said only
>Christian notices could be posted. Does this affect the terms and conditions
>of employment of the non-Christian employees?
Certainly it does. But this shifts the focus from the employer
discriminating on the basis of religious message *between* employees to
endorsing the "speech" of the message authorized by any employees. Again, I
may be reading too much into Hank's query. I'm indulging an inference that
the employer lets slide certain "politically correct" speech it already
agrees with, but is disciminating on the basis of religion against allowing
someone the "perk" of participation on the company web server when it doesn't.
>All in all, the situation strikes me as a "no good deed goes unpunished"
>scenario. The employer is trying to make the workplace better and is making
>net bandwidth available to do it. The employer is trying to keep explicit
>political and religious activity out of the workplace, perhaps for reasons of
>maintaining harmony by avoiding explosive issues.
I'd agree about "no good deed," but I disagree that in the scenario we were
given that the employer is actually trying to keep political activity out
of the workplace.
>But it sure seems to me like the sort of thing that ought to be able to be
>negotiated to everyone's adequate satisfaction - e.g., avoiding
>still keeping out politics, but allowing religious-themed groups to have
>bit of the web.
Rob Weinberg, Montgomery, AL
More information about the Religionlaw