Best Ohio Religious Discrimination Attorney Answer: Can I get a religious accommodation because I am vegan in the workplace? What protects me from discrimination as a vegan employee in Ohio? How do I get a religious accommodation in the workplace? What are my rights at work as a vegan against mandatory vaccinations?
Recently, Judge S. Arthur Spiegel, of the Southern District of Ohio passed away. Judge Spiegel was born in Cincinnati, Ohio, and graduated in 1942 with his B.A. from the University of Cincinnati. He authored a great opinion on religious discrimination that our employment discrimination attorneys blogged about in 2013. (see Religious Discrimination: What exactly is “Religion”? Is Veganism A Protected Religion?) In honor of Judge Spiegel’s passing, our employment law lawyers revisited the issue of whether the veganism can be protected as a religion against employment discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
Are you a vegan? Do you consider veganism to be more than a dietary choice or social phenomenon but instead a sincerely held belief such that you would compare your veganism to a religion? Does your boss require you to have vaccinations that morally conflict with your sincerely held beliefs? Judge Spiegel ruled that an employer may not be able to discriminate against employees on the basis of veganism as it is tantamount to religious discrimination as opposed to a mere dietary preference or social philosophy. This ruling means that vegan’s may be afforded the same protection as members of religious groups under the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) regulations that dictate how religion is treated and defined religion to encompass all “moral or ethical beliefs on right and wrong that are sincerely held with the strength of religious views.”
In Chenzira v. Cincinnati Childrens’ Hospital, plaintiff Sakile Chenzira’s wrongful termination claim survived a motion to dismiss on the basis of religious discrimination and two other claims, and subsequently resulted in a settlement out of court. In its order, the Judge Spiegel did an in depth analysis regarding the relationship between veganism and religion in light of the circumstances surrounding Sakile’s termination.
In this case, Sakile, an “ethical” vegan, refused to have a flu vaccination consistent with hospital policies because flu vaccinations are cultivated from chicken eggs, an animal byproduct, as such violated her moral and ethical tenets. Sakile’s veganism is rooted in her belief that the slaughter, use of, extraction of, and consumption of any animal flesh or otherwise is inhumane. This is to be distinguished from a vegan who believes the health benefits of a vegan diet are desirable. Because of Sakile’s rationale for her choice in veganism, in her article Professor Sherry F. Colb of Cornell University School of law, noted the court construes veganism is a sincerely held belief founded in her moral and philosophical convictions, specifically, Sakile’s “commitment to refusing flesh and animal secretions is often just as strong and sincere as a religious Jew’s commitment to avoiding leavened bread during the Passover holiday or a religious Muslim’s commitment to avoiding the flesh of pigs.”
Sakile cited to the Code of Federal Regulations Section 1605.1 which states in pertinent part,
“[i]n most cases whether or not a practice or belief is religious is not at issue. However, in those cases in which the issue does exist, the [Equal Employment Opportunity] Commission will define religious practices to include moral or ethical beliefs as to what is right and wrong which are sincerely held with the strength of traditional religious views.”
The Judge further noted that both because of Sakile’s position for over ten years as a customer service representative far removed from contact with patients whose concern was primarily motivating the policy and the fact that the hospital has exempted her from vaccination in the past, her argument is persuasive in that she was targeted for termination purely because of her beliefs.
If you feel that you are being discriminated or harassed based on your religion or religious beliefs or that you were wrongfully terminated because of you are Jewish, Muslim, Mormon, Hindu or any other religion, the best course of action you can take is to call the right attorney at 866-797-6040 to schedule a free and confidential consultation. At The Spitz Law Firm, you will meet with a religious discrimination attorney, who will be able to tell you what your legal rights are and the best way to protect them.
The materials available at the top of this religious discrimination blog and at this employment law website are for informational purposes only and not for the purpose of providing legal advice. If you are still asking, “How do I …”, “What should I do …,” “Can my boss discriminate against me because I’m (Jewish/Muslim/Mormon/Hindu)?” or “I was fired for my religious beliefs. The answer to “What can I do?”, is to contact an Ohio attorney to obtain advice with respect to any particular religious discrimination or other employment law issue or problem. Use and access to this employment law website or any of the links contained within the site do not create an attorney-client relationship. The legal opinions expressed at or through this site are the opinions of the individual lawyer and may not reflect the opinions of The Spitz Law Firm, Brian Spitz, or any individual attorney.