The Washington state supreme court has ruled that employers are required to adjust their policies for employees' religious practices, in response to a lawsuit by food-service employees near SeaTac Airport who complained that they were forced (under security-based company policies that don't allow them to leave their workplace for lunch) to eat foods such as pork that contradict their religious beliefs, the Seattle Times reports.
According to the ruling, the supposed "vegetarian" meal options included animal byproducts and the "turkey" meatballs actually included both beef and pork.
Asked whether the ruling could potentially justify pharmacists' ability to refuse to give out medications they personally disagree with, like birth-control pills or the emergency-contracaption drug Plan B, Janet Chung, a staff attorney for women's rights group Legal Voice says, "nope."
Asked whether the ruling could potentially justify pharmacists' ability to refuse to give out medications they personally disagree with, like birth-control pills or the emergency-contracaption drug Plan B (a case currently in play in Washington state), Janet Chung, a staff attorney for Legal Voice (a group that advocates for women's reproductive rights) says nope; in general, she says, the group is "pleased with this decision and think it strikes an appropriate balance between legitimate requests for religious accommodation and protecting others from discrimination in the name of religion.
"The court ruled that the four plaintiffs demonstrated that they have a legitimate case that their employer, Gate Gourmet, has failed 'to reasonably accommodate their religious beliefs ... by first deceiving the employees into eating food prohibited by their religions ... and then by refusing to entertain any of the employees' proposed accommodations, with the result that the employees were forced to eat prohibited food or work hungry."
"The Court recognized that while there is a duty to accommodate, it has limits – and the right to religious accommodation does NOT mean a license to discriminate – for example, to harass others or deny services based on a customer’s race, gender, or sexual orientation.
"So a pharmacist who does not want to dispense emergency contraception now has the right under state law – as well as federal law – to request an accommodation. But an employer is not obligated to grant the accommodation if it can show doing so would create an undue hardship."
We also have a call out to the ACLU to get their reaction to the Supreme Court ruling.