Some Christian employees of American Airlines think the company’s anti-harassment policies – which include a warning not to place a Bible in a Muslim’s cubicle – discriminate against them.
The warning was included in a written reminder of the company’s workplace policies. One of the examples of what might be “considered to be harassment under company policy” was:
“Placing a Bible in a Muslim co-worker’s cubicle, which could support a claim for harassment.”
One employee who contacted WND noted, “It makes no mention of a Quran being classified as offensive, the Bhagavad-Gita or any other religious book – EXCEPT the Bible. Obviously, these rules have an anti-Christian bias that needs to be remedied.”
Other examples of potential harassment in the internal document included:
“Playing music in the workplace that advocates violence or is sexually explicit.”
“Making jokes about a co-worker’s sexual orientation, even if the coworker who is the subject of the joke is not offended.”
The airline’s policy mentioned other symbols that might be used to express hatred toward fellow employees.
“What is hate-related behavior?” the memo asked. “Hate-related behavior is any action or statement that suggests hatred for or hostility toward a person or group because of their race, sex, sexual orientation, religion or other protected characteristic. This includes, but is in no way limited to, bigoted slurs, drawings and symbols such as a hangman’s noose, a swastika or graffiti.”
Tim Wagner, a spokesman for American Airlines, told WND the document is the type that goes out to employees periodically to remind them of the company’s policies.
He said the reminders “help form the basis for a rich, inclusive and supportive culture at American Airlines.”
Wagner said the reference to the Bible was not meant to single out any one faith.
“That is simply an example of a single event that could make an individual feel harassed,” he said. “It would apply in any situation where material about any religion was used inappropriately in the workplace.”
Wagner stressed the Bible example was not suggestive of a specific incident that has occurred at American.
The spokesman admitted that talking religion in the workplace is not encouraged.
“In general, even between people with established relationships – or people of different denominations of the same faith – religion is a touchy subject,” he said.
“There are times when religion is necessarily discussed in the workplace. For American, especially around certain religious holidays, it is necessary to inform our employees of things to expect of passengers, including certain manners of dress, eating habits and calls to prayer. We want every conversation to be respectful, knowledgeable and leave all participants feeling at ease.”
Wagner emphasized the airline tries to educate employees to know what subjects “are particularly likely to be dynamic and possibly offend somebody if you go too far.”
He mentioned that “politics, sex and religion” are “slippery subjects” that employees are warned to be careful of when talking with other employees.
Even so, Wagner claimed employees are not being stifled.
“It’s not like you’re walking a very fine politically correct line here,” he said.
Wagner noted the policy is not meant to inhibit people “with like minds” from discussing certain issues together.
“In fact,” he said, “we have what we call Employee Resource Groups, or ERGs, where people of like backgrounds can get together and discuss things. So we have a Christian Employee Resource Group. We have a Muslim Employee Resource Group. We have over 40 ERGs, maybe a Gay-Lesbian-Transgender Employee Resource Group, so they all have the ability to get together and discuss things.”
In the internal memo, American management made clear its intolerance for harassment:
“American Airlines does not tolerate hate-related behavior, even if it is intended as a joke. Hate-related behavior will result in immediate termination of employment, regardless of length of service and prior employment record.”