The Intersection of Religion and Sexual Orientation in the Workplace: Unequal Protections, Equal Employees

Source: Molly Whitman, Southern Methodist University Law Review, Summer 2012

…This Comment examines the interaction between sexual orientation and religion in the workplace and how the current state of the law can produce a variety of confusing, contradictory, and often surprising results. Today’s employers seek to promote a diverse workforce to be viable in the global marketplace. However, because religious employees enjoy a wide variety of statutory protections for their religious practices and beliefs, employers must sometimes compromise to allow potentially irritating or unwelcome conduct in order to provide reasonable accommodations for their religious employees….

…Part II of this Comment discusses the evolution of religious discrimination under Title VII. Part III examines how sexual orientation has been excluded from Title VII and the ways in which LGBT plaintiffs have been marginally successful in bringing certain types of gender-discrimination claims. Part IV highlights some of the most influential cases in which religion and sexual orientation have played tug-of-war at work and in the courtroom. Finally, Part V explores various scenarios and how employers are likely to react under the current state of the law. However, because the law leaves many questions unanswered, employers will probably be left feeling confused about how to proceed when confronted with employees whose core ideological values strongly conflict with those of their coworkers….

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