SEATTLE– Washington employers are required by law to forget about religion when it comes to hiring or firing someone, but are businesses obligated to accommodate their workers’ spiritual beliefs?
It’s a tricky legal question the state Supreme Court may finally address. On Tuesday, the high court began hearing arguments in a closely watched case.
The lawsuit at the center of the case was brought by four employees at Gate Gourmet, an international company that prepares food for airline passengers. For security reasons, the company bars employees from bringing meals to work. The four men — who are vegetarian, Orthodox Christian, Muslim and Hindu — claim the meals the company served during their shifts led them to unknowingly eat pork and other foods that are against their religious and moral beliefs.
Opinions differ on whether state law requires employers to accommodate religious practices in the workplace.
“Failure to recognize a religious discrimination claim under (state law) would leave a gaping hole in the coverage made available by the statute,” the ACLU of Washington and Washington Employment Lawyers Association wrote in a brief filed with the Supreme Court, according to the Seattle Times.
Attorneys for the company wrote in an email that Gate Gourmet takes its legal obligations very seriously, including those designed to protect the rights of employees.
Read more from the Times here.