What is right or wrong in the world of morality is relative and that is why we have laws to try to objectively settle for us what is deem right or wrong. However, the law is not always clear on a lot of issues—especially when it comes to certain contractual responsibilities in the area of employment and the borders of certain fundamental human rights.
Religion is highly important to several people and even though the law grants freedom of religion, and requires for reasonable accommodation of one’s faith at work place, there is limit as to what employers can accommodate.
The case of Charee Stanley, a Muslim flight attendant who claims she was suspended from her job for refusing to serve alcohol during flights due to her religious beliefs has made headlines—and on social media, the conversation continues with people expressing varying views.
Charee Stanley, 40, has already filed a complaint against ExpressJet alleging that her suspension from the Atlanta-based airline was discriminatory—and that the airline should have made reasonable adjustments to accommodate the fact that she cannot serve alcohol per the requirement of her faith.
According to reports, Charee Stanley “had originally agreed with the airline that another flight attendant would serve customers who requested alcohol, but said she was suspended last month after a colleague complained.
The suspension is for a full year without pay. Lena Masri, Ms Stanley’s lawyer, said her client was unfairly punished for practising her religion. “What this case comes down to is no one should have to choose between their career and religion and it’s incumbent upon employers to provide a safe environment where employees can feel they can practice their religion freely,” she said.”
This is one of the many clashes between religion and others rights; here, passengers right to be served alcohol and also an employers right to have certain jobs done by those employed to do it.
On the face of it, this seems like Charee Stanley has been treated unfairly—considering the fact that she had instituted reasonable agreement with her colleague to take up the responsibility of serving alcohol .
But on a closer examination of the issue, Charee Stanley’s position has a great tendency to affect the efficient providing of services for the passengers of ExpressJet.
Islam does not only require Muslims not to consume or serve alcohol, in fact this doctrine of ‘Harem’ can be stretched to embrace; not serving ham sandwich (pork) and other forbidden foods—which means, cutting Charee Stanley’s this alcohol slack will open the floodgate for others or even for her to make more non-serving demands.
Also, what happens if Charee Stanley’s colleague is on holiday and the only person available to cover her shift is another Muslim? Meaning, those who will find themselves on a flight with these two people in charge cannot be served with their favourite beer or wine, or even pork—because the religion of the two attendants forbids their legal taste and preference.
Interestingly, Charee Stanley seems to think that, she has a right to hold her job—and at the same time, pick which parts of the job she would want to do and perhaps, be fully paid per her employment contract.
In the video interview below, when she was asked about finding another job which will sit perfectly well with the requirements of her faith, she said, she loves to fly and as such wants to remain a flight attendant.
Of course she can be a flight attendant but the problem is, being a flight attendant comes with a job description—including serving paying passengers’ alcohol, no matter how unimportant this duty seems.
I will deeply be upset if I board a plane and the flight attendant refuses to serve or sell me my favourite beer because her religion is against not only drinking it, but also serving it to another person who has nothing to do with her faith.
No matter how unreasonable religion is, it has a place in human lives but it’s not the only important pillar of our existence—work is equally important and a person employed or paid to do a work must do so in full, irrespective of his or her religion.
If something sits on the high table as ‘Harem’ to a Muslim, she has the right not to engage with it but if the same Muslim decides to conveniently work in a job which requires engagement, then she must decide whether to place her faith first or her job.
Even without digging into the need for proper balancing and accommodation of conflicting rights as required by the law, Charee Stanley seems to want to eat her cake and have it back. It’s unfair that she has to serve alcohol contrary to the requirements of her faith but she has an option; to quit the job.
However, it would be extensively unfair and shockingly unacceptable that passengers on a flight would be deny their right to purchase or enjoyment of alcohol because people like Charee Stanley wouldn’t want to serve—and also wouldn’t want to leave the job for those who can fully commit to serving the needs of passengers to do so…
Ms Stanley’s case has drawn comparison to that of Kim Davis, the Kentucky clerk who was jailed for refusing to issue marriage licences to same sex couples because her christian faith was against this—and to be frank, it seems like the same legal principle will apply.
You cannot on the back of your faith unilaterally discharge yourself of your employment responsibilities—and consequently deny several others their legal entitlements.
There is always an easy option; leave the job but mostly, these ‘faithfuls’ believe their right to religion is somewhat more important than the rights of others—forgetting that, this is never the case…
The question is; “when your job requires you to do something, and your religion requires you to do something else, how do you account for both? Should you resign, if you’re really convinced of your convictions. Or you stay on but refuse to do your job? Isn’t this about the whole ‘give to Caesar’s what’s his and to God what’s His?”
Should employers be forced to make accommodation for the many religious quirks of every employee?
Watch the video below and let’s know what you think…