Many years ago, I was severely disciplined by my employer, a black mark upon my personnel file that still haunts me to this day.
The issue dealt with my aging father, who suffering terribly from Alzheimer's. He called to tell me that my brother had passed away. I was terribly saddened and made arrangements to follow my brothers wishes, which included NOT having a church funeral or any type of religious ceremony. I put in for funeral leave with my employer and left to attend to things.
Needless to say, I was quite surprised to find my brother quite alive and well. My father's illness had totally taken his sense of the present and confused it with his own brother that died many years prior.
I went back and was informed that an investigation was already underway for my unethical conduct. Before I could even tell them about the error, apparently someone had learned about the incident and complained to my employer.
My boss weighed the evidence on one major fact. Since I had not attended any type of funeral, it was obvious that the story was false. Regardless of explaining to him how it was my brother's will not to have any church or religious involvement, this pathetic man ruled against me stating that "Any decent christian american would attend a funeral".
He therefore inadvertently told me I was NOT decent and I was suspended for a week based on unethical conduct. My boss implied I had abused my funeral leave and this was a immoral character flaw. I was the subject of many petty infractions from that time forward, no doubt my boss trying to further my punishment. Harassment in the workplace? Absolutely.
My only other option to appeal would have been to have my father testify as to the mistake he made. My poor, weak, father who was barely able to stand or think on his own.
When I asked my father about this, he never remembered talking to me about my brother, let alone the investigator for the college police department. I was not going to put him in such a position.
I would not put my poor father in such a position so I had no choice but to take the punishment and black flag on my personal character for all these years.
I wonder now, even though quite the time has passed, if there would be a basis for legal action against my boss for involving church and state in his decision?
I generally wish no harm upon those who believe differently than me. But when a person has personally wronged me because of religious intolerance or some other misguided offense against me... my thoughts travel in a much different direction.
That is HORRIBLE. I would contact the FFRF (Freedom From Religion Foundation) located in Madison, WI. They are AWESOME. I would certainly think you have a case!!!! I'm sorry that happened to you!~ Melinda
How long ago did all of this happen? If it was a long time ago, you might not be able to do much. Also, it's your word against his concerning what was said to you unless there was a witness.
@booklover - I have contacted the FFRF and the EEOC. Both of them are in the process of looking into my case. Based upon my initial report, their attorneys told me I do have a case.
@MikeW - Yes, there has been a long period of time since the discrimination occurred. However, the EEOC has informed me that if there is a pattern of consistent harassment that has continued up until now, then I still have a case to bring forward.
Hostile workplace? Absolutely. Fellow employees would not work with me, I was threatened with physical violence, and even put in a situation where someone was obligated by law to help me out of a dangerous situation and they refused. Even to this day, my supervisors will tell me they have "issues with my credibility" because of this incident. It has continued and does to this very day.
I would have reported such discrimination earlier, but as my non-thiestic beliefs were just coming into acceptance, I did not believe I had any protections under the 1st amendment. Those words covered "religion" but not lack of religion.
It is only by speaking with other like-minded individuals that I have learned that I was indeed protected. Further, many who know me are quite surprised I am still working at this place and being treated the way I am.
Being an atheist certainly puts you in the minority, there is no doubt about this. And often it is a lonely existence until you find others like you who understand.
Good John! I'm glad they're looking into it for you!~booklover
I'm glad that you were able to find out this information. Your boss was completely in the wrong there and indeed harassment in the workplace, for any reason, is against the law.
This is a tough call. It sounds like a dysfunctional workplace. Having been harassed out of a prior workplace, I understand how hard it is. In my case, no one acknowledged the harassment, but I was allowed to change worksites. With exemplary performance before and after I was driven out of the one place, my employer has moved on. So have I, except when something reminds me.
I do wonder if you have a case on the religious issue. Even if they SHOULD understand the honest error on your part, due to your father's dementia - it was a case of taking leave for your brother's death, when he hadn't died. A good employer would express condolence for how hard it is for you to go through your difficult time with your father's Alzheimers, and use the time taken as sick leave - again, for your father's illness.
Some times, harassment happens for unspoken reasons, that can not be proven - it can be part of the "us vs. them" tribalism that pervades society and workplaces. From personal experience, it's very hard to be "them".
In the end, the important thing for you will be to move on, if you can. Living well is the best revenge.