Human Resources As Grand Inquisitor
I thought I was done here for the week, but I just got something from a reader, and it’s powerful. He writes:
I’ll get straight to the point, because I hardly know where to begin. My sister-in-law works for Vail Resorts, which is imposing a vaccine mandate on its employees. Her coworker, whose name I am protecting because I don’t want to jeopardize her job any more than it already is, applied for a religious exemption. The co-worker received this very odd and intrusive reply, a screenshot of which I’ve attached.
Questioning someone’s religious sincerity, especially someone you have very little or no personal relationship with, is a delicate matter that should be treated as such, to say the least. This response is clearly in bad faith and is emblematic of a tendency under this vaccine mandate to treat all religious objectors as guilty until proven innocent.
If this precedent is allowed to go unchallenged, imagine how it can be expanded and used for other attacks on religious freedom, with the force of law behind them to coerce a “choice” between compliance and eradication:If you, Christian school, object to hiring this openly homosexual teacher because it violates Christian teaching on sexuality, have you ever or will you ever hire a divorcee or someone who has had premarital or extramarital sex?If you, Hobby Lobby, refuse to fund health care plans that pay for abortions on the grounds that all human life is sacred, have you ever voiced or will you voice equal opposition to the death penalty?The point is not whether or not these are good questions to wrestle with from a moral perspective, and indeed, all believers should. The point is, who the hell is some corporate HR lackey to arbitrate the nature of one’s belief based on the answers? Are they going to drug test this poor woman going forward, to make sure she doesn’t take any over-the-counter medications on penalty of being fired? This disingenuous assault on faith is what is being done to individuals around the country both in the federal government and private businesses; we cannot allow ourselves to be divided by vaccination status in how we respond to this hostile attack on religious belief. First they came for the unvaccinated, but I already had my vaccine, so I didn’t speak out…You tell me: does this line of questioning look like that of an organization fairly and neutrally evaluating religious exemptions, or does it look like they are designed to be traps with which to imply insincerity and hypocrisy, and so deny exemptions? Keep in mind the law solely speaks to sincerity of belief, not logical consistency. Logical consistency in nearly all faith-based systems is almost impossible to prove, and the less familiar one is with the system, the less likely one is to recognize the nuances that allow seeming contradictions to coexist. Again, is this something the government or HR is qualified to assess, especially with these types of questions?We extend accommodations to certain other protected groups with almost no validation of belief whatsoever, despite glaring logical inconsistencies; this is a uniquely religious persecution. Don’t believe me? Identify as a woman and demand access to any role or physical space reserved for that gender, and see if any HR bureaucrat asks whether you’re on hormone treatments and how long you’ve been on them, or if you intend to keep your penis.This is truly alarming, and what so much of our country is tolerating in the name of fear and safety comes as a punch to the gut. What legal recourse is there to this kind of abuse of power? How can we band together?
I’m struck by the cross-purposes these HR departments are working at. My company, as with many others, are threatening termination to those who wont get the vaccine, even for people who work 100% remote. Yet I am also a manager (IT & analysis stuff) having a hell of a time trying to hire right now since there is so much competition for talent. We are forced to substantially raise offers. Plus we are getting a lot of people poached by other firms. Then all over in the service sector like restaurants and hospitality there are help wanted signs and terrible service because they cant stay staffed up, at least where I live.
So honestly, I feel like if you can financially handle it, call their bluff and let them try to terminate you. The companies are already losing talent like crazy in the “great resignation”. Someone is going to find some clever way to hire unvaccinated despite Biden’s order because frankly there aren’t enough workers to go around (unless the feds really change visa policy)
Seriously, companies really cant afford to lose good people now. The workers have a strong hand, play it! If one of my best people refused the vaccine I would be fighting HR with all my might to get an exception for them. It’s easy for HR to act like this, but actual operational managers aren’t going to be so ideological when someone good is getting axed over something so dumb.