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can an employer require you to be “sexually pure”? — Ask a Supervisor


A reader writes:

I’ve been working within the nonprofit trade for 2 years, and I’m at present searching for a brand new job in a brand new metropolis. Many nonprofits, together with the one I at present work with, are affiliated with spiritual organizations. That is effective with me, whilst an individual who doesn’t apply faith.

Nevertheless, I used to be not too long ago filling out an utility that requested me to conform to a “assertion of religion” and a code of conduct. The code of conduct referenced scripture for every worth listed, and most of the values have been, for my part, pretty cheap: accountable social media use, honesty, integrity, and so forth. Nevertheless, I balked at having to conform to “sexual purity” within the utility (copied beneath):

Sexual Purity: Amongst you there should not be even a touch of sexual immorality (Ephesians 5:3a). We affirm sexuality as a present from God and attempt to honor this present by conducting our personal lives in accordance with accountable, optimistic sexual ethics and in accordance with Scripture. We’ll keep away from sinful sexual habits and inappropriate involvement. We consider that Biblically outlined marriage is a sacred covenant between one man and one girl, and an individual’s gender (male or feminine) is set by God within the womb (Psalm 139:13) and revealed at start.

I personally is not going to be persevering with my utility due to this (looks like a poisonous place to work and doesn’t align with my values in any respect), however can an employer even ask you to agree to those issues? This looks like a gross overstep and past the scope of what an employer must be involved about, however I’m glad I realized this in regards to the org earlier than I completed making use of! I’m baffled.


Whether or not it’s authorized is dependent upon a couple of various factors.

First, federal legislation doesn’t allow employers with 15 or extra workers to discriminate on the idea of spiritual perception or apply. Some state-level legal guidelines kick in at a decrease variety of workers.

Nevertheless, federal legislation exempts spiritual organizations from that legislation and permits them to desire members of their faith in hiring and different employment practices — however that exception applies solely to organizations whose “goal and character are primarily spiritual.” (So a church, sure. A financial institution run by a man who occurs to be extremely spiritual himself, no.) The legislation doesn’t lay out a single take a look at to find out if an employer qualifies for that exemption, however elements courts have checked out embody issues like whether or not the group’s day-to-day operations are spiritual (i.e., are its companies or merchandise directed towards propagation of the faith?); whether or not its articles of incorporation state a non secular goal; whether or not it’s owned, affiliated with, or financially supported by a formally spiritual entity resembling a church or different spiritual group; whether or not a formally spiritual entity participates in its administration, like by having representatives on the board; and whether or not it presents itself to the general public as explicitly spiritual. With out figuring out something in regards to the employer, I can’t say whether or not they’d qualify for an exemption — however you most likely have an thought.

In the event that they do not qualify for an exemption to the legislation, then it’s unlawful for them to require candidates and workers to signal a press release or religion or adhere to a non secular code of conduct. The one exception to that can be if it’s a “bona fide occupational qualification,” that means it’s particularly required to do that particular job, not simply one thing they’re requiring throughout the board as a result of they like it (for instance, it may very well be allowed for a job as a spokesperson for celibacy, however not for a job doing accounting).

It’s additionally price noting that this exemption solely applies to non secular discrimination. It doesn’t exempt an employer from following race, age, intercourse, nationwide origin, incapacity, being pregnant, and different anti-discrimination legal guidelines — even when the group says that its spiritual beliefs require the discriminatory motion. So for instance, in the event that they have been solely holding girls to this “sexual purity” requirement however overlooking sexual habits from males, that may be a authorized situation.

So. Is that this group breaking the legislation? It is dependent upon all of the elements above.

No matter all that, i’m interested in how they’re defining “sexual purity” past simply the homophobia and transphobia of their clarification. Is intercourse earlier than marriage grounds for firing? Are sure intercourse acts prohibited whereas others are permitted? And what do they imply by “even a touch of sexual immorality” — are we speaking about low-cut blouses? A racy joke? A lingering look? A rumor about you began by the jerk down the corridor?

It’s a gross overstep certainly.




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