Religious freedom is a shield that protects against discrimination and allows people to practice their faith or no faith. But some employers try to use religious freedom as a sword that lets them discriminate against their employees.
Religion should never be a trump card with regard to laws that protect against workplace discrimination. For example, a for-profit business can’t claim a religious right to fire a transgender employee and a school can’t cite religion to justify paying women less than men.
Religious organizations have the right to employ people of the same faith. But if these organizations partner with the government to deliver services, they can’t discriminate in hiring. No one should be disqualified for a job funded with taxpayer dollars because she is the “wrong” religion – or, under the Trump administration’s view, doesn’t regularly attend religious services, is in a same-sex marriage, undergoes a gender transition, gets divorced, uses birth control or is pregnant and unmarried.
Americans United has long fought against efforts to use religion to sanction employment discrimination.