How pronoun policies can help HR referee when gender and religion clash

Source: Ryan Golden, HR Dive, October 18, 2019

In general, employers have a lot of leeway over workplace policies, but they should be careful with phrasing, attorneys told HR Dive. ….

….This particular case concerns public-sector employment and state law claims but it may not be too much of a stretch to imagine how a similar situation could arise in the typical U.S. workplace.

Consider the landscape: nearly one-fifth of U.S. adults in a 2019 Pew Research Center survey said they personally know someone who uses pronouns such as “they” over pronouns such as “he” or “she.” A recent report by the Chicago Tribune on inclusive language policies at IBM indicated employers are beginning to encounter issues around pronouns more frequently. And at this year’s annual Society for Human Resource Management conference, pronouns were included as part of an early session on LGBTQ awareness and best practices for the workplace.

So could an employer, hypothetically, discipline an employee who does not adhere to a rule that employees must properly address co-workers, pronouns included? Does it matter if the employee cites a sincerely held religious belief?….