arjohns at ADNC.COM
Mon Mar 2 22:18:15 PST 1998
I appreciate your comments. Just a couple of points, if I could.
1) We've already told the company the web site would NOT be used for
proselytizing, etc., but only for announcements and general info.
2) What about the extra-legal aspect of the situation: If homosexuality is
against someone's religion, does the promotion of that lifestyle (however
benign that may be since it's assumed they won't be able to use their web
page to "proselytize" either) present an unfair "advantage" over the
Christian group that is being denied a similar "counter-balancing" web
page? (Wait, let me guess: that really wouldn't do the Christian group any
good, but probably merely result in the gay/lesbians losing their page?)
At 13:57 3/2/98 -0500, you wrote:
>> Looks like a possible Title VII issue if everyone else gets to put their
>> "political" agendas up (gay/lesbian, afro-american, etc.), but not
>> religious agendas.
>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.
>> Obviously, free speech does not apply in the private
>> arena. But religion is protected under Title VII.
>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?
>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?
>> Rather than drop a Title VII suit hint, why not propose an alternative up
>> front? Suggest that everyone with a web page on the intranet carry a
>> disclaimer that it is not office sanctioned or reflect the views of the
>I think this is the better way to go - and still exclude political ones,
>perhaps. But, I fear that those on the religious list or webpage could
>subjected to unkind postings and other nastiness and then the company
>opened up for a harassment suit. And so it seems frought with potential
>> I'd also suggest to the higher-ups that *real* political
>> correctness does not distinguish between messages on the basis of religious
>Bad enough that there is this mythological beast political correctness.
>need to distinguish real mythological beasts from unreal ones!
>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 fear this is one situation where complaints could make things worse for
>everyone involved. But sometimes that pain is justified and even required.
>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.
>Steven D. Jamar
>Professor of Law
>Director, Legal Research & Writing Program
>Howard University School of Law
>2900 Van Ness Street N.W.
>Washington, D.C. 20008
>President, Legal Writing Institute
>vox: 202-806-8017 fax: 202-806-8428
>email: sjamar at law.howard.edu
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