Monday is Labor Day, a time when we celebrate the dedication and can-do spirit of the American workforce.
But even as we pause to mark the day, we must also confront some stark realities facing American workers – and one of them is that the Trump-Pence administration is hard at work making it easier for you to be fired because of your boss’s religion.
Earlier this month, the U.S. Department of Labor announced a proposed rule that would allow government contractors to use “religious freedom” to fire or refuse to hire workers who don’t meet a religious test. Under the proposed rule, both nonprofits and for-profit corporations would be able to discriminate against employees, even though the contractors are receiving taxpayer money.
This is no theoretical matter. Millions of Americans work for firms that contract with the federal government – this could impact one-quarter of the American workforce. Once this rule is in place, companies could reject workers who are LGBTQ, single moms, members of religious minorities, non-theists and others. In short, if who you are or how you live your life offends your boss’s religion, you could be out of a job.
As AU President and CEO Rachel Laser asserted, “We believe no one should be disqualified from a taxpayer-funded job because he or she is the ‘wrong’ religion, does not follow the same religious ‘tenets’ as the employer or cannot pass an employer’s religious litmus test.”
The Trump-Pence administration is also urging the Supreme Court to make it easier for companies to fire LGBTQ people. The court will hear three related cases in October involving gay or transgender people who were fired, including the case of Aimee Stephens, a transgender woman in Michigan who was fired from her job at a funeral home by an owner who cited his religious beliefs and objected to Aimee dressing as a woman at work.
A federal appeals court ruled that Stephens is protected by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which bans discrimination on the basis of sex and other factors. The Trump-Pence administration is arguing in court that the law’s protections should not apply to Aimee or other members of the LGBTQ community.
Americans United believes that no American should suffer discrimination because he or she fails to meet an employer’s religious demands. We will file formal comments opposing the Labor Department’s proposed rule and have told the Supreme Court to protect workers like Aimee.
You can help. This Labor Day, reaffirm your opposition to religion-based discrimination in the workplace by signing this petition.