Monday, December 27, 2010

Calling the Kettle Black

This is not the first of its kind, or the last of its kind. I have read several cases from several jurisdictions that are unfortunately similar.

I come across these cases because I'm in the middle of writing a piece that reviews every United States Court of Appeals' line of decisions that interpret "reasonable accommodation" from Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Reasonable Accommodation specifically comes into play when an employer has discriminated against an employee on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, or national origin.

Peterson v. Hewlett-Packard Co., comes from the 9th Circuit. 358 F.3d 599 (9th Cir. 2004). The plaintiff, Richard Peterson, sued Hewlett-Packard for "terminating him on account of his religious views and that HP failed to accommodate his religious beliefs." Id. at 601. Another case of big corporation beating up on the little guy, right? Not so much . . .

The reason that Peterson was fired was because of insubordination. Id. at 602. Hewlett-Packard began a diversity campaign by hanging posters all over the workplace. Id. at 601. One in particular showed an employee above the caption, "Black," "Blonde," "Old," "Gay," or "Hispanic." Id.

Now, Mr. Peterson describes himself as a "devout Christian," Id. As a devout Christian, Mr. Peterson sought to expose evil when confronted. Id. He saw these posters as confronting his Biblical beliefs; the one that read "Gay" in particular. Subsequently, he posted scriptures over the posters. One reading from II Corinthians, one from Isaiah, and one from the dreaded Leviticus passage . . . dun dun dun . . . ! Of course, these scriptures all relate to homosexuality being a sin and therefore warrantying condemnation (scripturally, God's condemnation at judgment, not Mr. Peterson's interpretation of man's condemnation from 9-5).

According to Mr. Peterson's own testimony, these posters were "intended to be hurtful." Id. at 602. When Hewlett-Packard attempted to allowe Mr. Peterson to remove the posters he declined and HP gave him the ol' boot to the streets. And then Mr. Peterson sued based on religious discrimination . . . And that's the Pot calling the Kettle black . . . or at least gay.

I wonder what Jesus would say about such things . . . Well I'm glad you asked, because I'm sure he did say something about how to treat other people. I think at one point, he may have said, "Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another." John 13:34-35. He also said, "Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy." Matthew 5:6. He instructed, "Love your enemies . . ." Matthew 5:43.

Paul, the most prolific New Testament writer stated, "Love does no harm to its neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law." Romans 13:10. So now I can ask, without being judgmental, "What was this Peterson clown thinking?" I know it's easy to get caught in the moment and act VERY un-Christian. But, making a stand against a person in the name of Christ because they are "sinners" is like an illiterate in a library. It's not productive.

All groups can, and should, make stands against ideologies that they don't believe in. Debate is one of the great things in which Truth is found. However, people should not use discrimination, hate, or slurs to propagate their positions. After all, the balance between loving people and hating people really is an easy one to strike. LOVE PEOPLE! That is, if you're a devout Christian. And do celebrate diversity, it could be another opportunity to "fulfill the law."

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