Religious discrimination is strictly forbidden in the United States Constitution and in many Individual States own constitutions. While in the US constitution it more specifically refers to the government imposing any undue laws or policies in place that would potentially discriminate on an individual's right to worship as they so choose. Whereas in the States constitutions and in this case the State of Massachusetts laws states that an employer shall not be allowed to discriminate on an individual as far as their religious beliefs allow. In the case of Cloutier v.
Costco Wholesale Corp. we have an individual suing Costco Wholesale Corp. for religious discrimination because she was terminated for not strictly following the employer's dress code of not having any facial jewelry except for earrings. "Kimberly M. Cloutier, Plaintiff, Appellant, alleges that her employer, Costco Wholesale Corp. (Costco), failed to offer her a reasonable accommodation after she alerted it to a conflict between the “no facial jewelry” provision of its dress code and her religious practice as a member of the Church of Body Modification.
She argues that this failure amounts to religious discrimination in violation of Title VII, 42 U. S. C. § 2000e-2(a), and the corresponding Massachusetts statute, Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 151B, § 4(1A). Religious beliefs that she be allowed to wear facial jewelry are found in the tennents of her religious organization" It would be up to The United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts, and then subsequently the US appeals court to make rulings either for or against the appellant.
Costco has developed an extensive dress code policy and expected all of its employees to follow this policy strictly to be able to maintain a business atmosphere. After the employee failed to remove her facial jewelry, Costco suspended the employee due to refusal to adhere to the dress code policy. After consideration was made Costco did offer an alternative to the plaintiff as a way to help Kimberly Cloutier continue to adhere to the tennants of her faith, while at the same time adhere to the written dress code policy?
After continued refusal to adopt the dress code policy, Costco discharged the employee for their company. 1. Analysis: Review the decision and its place in the development of human resource policy. Do you affirm or disagree with the decision? What do you believe will be the larger impact on employee rights and employer practices? The decision of the courts was that Costco was within its rights to terminate the employee from their service for failure to adhere to their dress code policy, and by allowing the plaintiff to continue to wear facial jewelry would be an undue hardship on the company.
Religious discrimination is something that can be very divisive in the United States. While Christianity is the predominant religion, and as such relies heavily on the principle that religious discrimination is wrong, it must be recognized that not all people of the United States adhere to this religion, and as such all religions have this protection. The question then becomes what constitutes a religion; fortunately in this case the courts did not have to make a determination on whether or not the Church of Body Modification was an actual religious organization.
I think this is an important aspect of the case because Coulter was suing Costco on the basis of religious discrimination. However the courts felt that the hardship that would hit Costco overruled the aspect of religious discrimination. I think that this affects human resource policy directly in that companies now have a court document stating that hardship did not necessarily have to do with the costs involved but that their where other factors involved. Human resource departments now have to consider what constitutes a hardship for the company, whenever they write policies that may affect someone's religious beliefs.
It also affirms the employer's ability to make policies that may be put into place whenever there is another religious organization that requires special accommodations for their religion. Personally I believe that companies have a right to expect their employees to maintain a net appearance and a business like appearance while they are working for the company. What constitutes this can vary between companies as their policies may differ depending on the job. There are a lot of questions though, that I have on this ruling.
A part of me wants to agree with the ruling in that whenever you have customer facing employees you need the employees to be professional looking at all times and this needs to be done in awe as not to offend any of their customers. If wearing facial jewelry makes any of their customers uneasy of if the site of facial jewelry makes a customer reconsider doing business with a particular company that all reasonable accommodations need to be in place to prevent this from happening, and just because a customer does not complain does not mean they agree with the look. In my experience the quiet customers are the ones you have to watch very losely, the loud customers usually do not stop doing business with you they just want to be heard. I also feel that if you hire in at a company and you know that their dress code is directly against your religious beliefs why would you want to work there. For instance there is a particular bar/restaurant that makes its employees wear very skimpy and revealing clothing. If your religious beliefs were such that this dress code was appalling to you, why apply at this place, there are plenty of other places to work that would fit your beliefs. However this is where the uneasiness with this ruling also stops me for a minute.
As I read the case, I see a few very glaring troublesome spots that make me rethink my position. First, Costco did not have the facial jewelry aspect in their dress code until after the employee's sot tarter wearing eyebrow piercings and such. This looks like an instance where management did not like a particular look and changed its policy to reflect that viewpoint. To be sure, the company has every right to hinge and modify its polices as it see fit, however, the employees were allowed to wear their facial jewelry for a time period before the policy was written and even for a while after the policy was written.
I think this is a great reminder that all company policies need to be strictly enforced all the time to prevent the appearance of any type of discrimination. The fact that Costco apparently had other employees, who had the same type of facial jewelry, magnifies this mandate. Costco contends that they did not allow the jewelry they just had such a large workforce that they could not efficiently control this type of violation. This is a point in which I strongly disagree, ach department has supervisors and managers that are expected to enforce company policy and shows the need for all management to strictly enforce these policies