Kim Davis and Religious Conflicts in the Workplace By Dan Atkerson on September 21, 2015

Male Female SymbolsClaiming she was acting “under God’s authority,” Kim Davis infamously refused to do her job earlier this month when she denied gay couples their new constitutional right to obtain marriage licenses. Ms. Davis’ actions invite the question: when is it okay to allow our religious beliefs to outweigh our employment obligations?

This isn’t the first time this question has been raised. Previous controversies such as nurses who refused to take part in abortions, pacifist post office workers who would not process draft registration forms, or a Muslim flight attendant who would not serve alcohol, are all other prime examples.

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act requires that employers make reasonable accommodations for an employee’s religious beliefs so long as it doesn’t cause any “undue hardship” on the business. This means that unless it incurs more than a modest cost for the employer, they must not take any adverse action against you based on your religious beliefs.

In the examples listed above, employers made accommodations for the employees so that they were able to continue working, but skipping the part they object to. These accommodations were awarded either by trading duties with other employees or by filing a lawsuit which ended in employers making a settlement.

Now, when we start to look at Kim Davis’ situation, it is important to note that she is an employee of a U.S. government agency. Government agencies follow a slightly different rule called the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA). This affords her slightly more protection in that under the RFRA, the government has to show that not only is there an undue hardship, but that her actions are causing harm to a government interest.

Ms. Davis has filed her claim against the state officials. If they decide that it is her legal duty to issue the marriage licenses under the U.S. Constitutional law, and that not doing so would represent undue hardship on the citizens of her county, as well as causing harm to a government interest, then she will not be given exemption from those duties.

Contact Dan A. Atkerson if you feel you have been a victim of religious discrimination. Let’s fight for your right to religious freedom provided to you by the United States Constitution.

Atkerson Law Firm Dallas employment lawyer

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Dan Atkerson

Law Offices of Dan A. Atkerson

Dan A. Atkerson has been protecting the rights of North Texas employees for over 36 years. He is affiliated with several prestigious legal organizations, including: 

  • United States Court of Appeals Fifth Circuit
  • State Bar of Texas
  • Texas Supreme Court and all Texas trial and appellate courts (since 1984)
  • Texas federal courts for the Northern and Eastern Districts of Texas
  • United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit
  • State Bar of Texas
  • Dallas Bar Association 

Through aggressive, knowledgeable representation, he has helped clients all over the state reach significant verdicts and settlements. To schedule your free consultation at our law firm, request an appointment online or call us at (214) 383-3606.

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