“Onionhead” teaches people to direct their emotions in a truthful and compassionate way. It is central to the teachings of the Harnessing Happiness Foundation, a 501c3 nonprofit organization dedicated to emotional knowledge and intelligence, conflict resolution, and life handling skills.
According to the lawsuit, the defendants required its employees to participate in “group prayers, candle burning, and discussions of spiritual texts,” all as part Onionhead, and fired anyone who refused to participate. The EEOC alleged that Onionhead is a religion, and forcing it upon employees violates Title VII.
According to EEOC Trial Attorney Charles Coleman, Jr., “This case featured a unique type of religious discrimination, in that the employer was pushing its religion on employees. Nonetheless, Title VII prohibits religious discrimination of this sort and makes what happened at CCG unlawful. Employees cannot be forced to participate in religious activities by their employer.”
He is 100 percent correct. If you’re thinking of holding a prayer meeting, conducting spiritual discussions or rituals, or doing anything else remotely related to religion at your company, don’t. Religion has no place at work. Your intentions may be absolutely pure. Your employees however, have the unfettered right to practice the religion of their choice, or not to practice any religion at all.
This post originally appeared on the Ohio Employer’s Law Blog, and was written by Jon Hyman, Partner, Meyers, Roman, Friedberg & Lewis. Jon can be reached at via email at email@example.com, via telephone at 216-831-0042, on LinkedIn, and on Twitter.