Have you ever dealt with an employee who had religious beliefs you thought were odd? Have you made a religious accommodation that you felt was personally unnecessary or a bit strange? Well, meet The Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster!
The Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster is (in my opinion) an outrageous, sacrilegious fundamentally wrong and irreverent take on how the universe and mankind came to exist. That being said, it really does not matter what I think. Nor has it mattered what many employers think or have thought over the past 11 years, since the FSM religion was invented.
Court cases have been fought and won by the churches members also known as Pastafarians. Religious accommodations have been required in many cases. Let’s review a few. You decide if you would seriously have these conversations out of respect for religious freedom in the United States OR would you laugh at the Pastafarian and end up in court? Here are 3 examples to ponder.
- Every Friday is a FSM holiday. All Pastafarians are required to dress as pirates, speak as pirates and preach the word of the FSM to co-workers. After all, humans did evolve from Pirates – so says the official FSM bible.
- Religious head gear is required. The traditional colander used to strain the water from pasta noodles is considered official by the church. Many FSM believers around the world have been allowed to wear colanders at work, during official swearing in ceremonies and in driver’s license photos. (I’m not kidding!)
- All congregants must dress in buccaneer attire when attending worship services. If the service is timed too close to the beginning or end of a shift, the worker may need to wear this garb or be allowed to change clothes at work.
So, what do you think? Can you do it? Well, if your employees show up as FSM Pastafarians, Church of Marijuana members or mainstream Christians you will need to treat them all with the same serious caution and potential accommodation. Even the U.S. Supreme Court is hesitant to rule on whether a person is really devout or a religion is valid. Who is to say?
While I do not believe these pop-up religions are valid, I must still accommodate my employees if and when these issues arise. So, here are a few tips offered by employment law firm Littler Mendelson:
- Develop a plan for dealing with religious accommodation requests.
- Consult counsel when an employee asserts a need for a religious accommodation, particularly where the request relates to an unfamiliar religion or practice.
- Assess, in coordination with counsel, the impact that an accommodation would have on their business.
- Continue to monitor legal developments, including case law addressing specific factual circumstances.
Until Next Time, Be Audit-Secure!