Thursday, July 26, 2007

Good "Fit" or Employee Discrimination?

Chick-fil-A Chairman S. Truett Cathy and his sons Dan T., CEO and "Bubba," SVP routinely making hiring and firing decisions based on their applicants' and employees' religious and marital status. More astoundingly, they make no attempt to hide the fact and speak openly to the press about it. According to the July 23rd issue of Forbes magazine:
- The company's corporate mission is to "glorify god;"
- Meetings and retreats include Christian prayers and employees have been fired for not participating;
- Employees and contractors must base their business practices on biblical principles;
- The company asks about marital status in employment interviews and only hires married people;
- The company interviews family members, including children; and
- The company would fire employees who do something "sinful;"

Their jaw dropping strategy for not running afoul with the law is "careful screening" to make sure employees fit into this environment. Huh???? Isn't that suggesting a policy of discriminating in hiring to avoid discrimination lawsuits from employees down the road?

The company has been sued at least 12 times since 1988, for of course, employment discrimination. In one lawsuit, an employee said he was fired from his job at a Houston Chick-fil-A restaurant a day after he refused to pray to Jesus Christ during a training session. According to the ex-employee's attorneys, all employees were instructed to get into a “prayer circle” and were told to say a prayer, one by one, to Jesus Christ.

“Our client refused, for religious purposes, and stayed silent when it was his turn.” Uncomfortable with the situation, the client later spoke with a manager who did not offer much assistance. The next day at training, the employee was pulled aside and fired. His performance review prepared just one week before his firing praised him as a "great manager" who knew the "operation side of the business very well." The suit was settled for an undisclosed sum. Should one assume that the company sees settling lawsuits such as this as a reasonable cost of doing business their way?

The question that I have is should we allow companies to knowingly and brazenly ignore discrimination laws by settling lawsuits with money? Or should companies be investigated and if found to break laws be required to stop discriminating immediately or risk being shut down?

1 Comments:

Anonymous dengar22 said...

Beth,

The Forbes article was slanted at best and complete hooey at worst. I have worked for Chick-fil-A for the last 10 years. The last two have been as an Owner/Operator.

I've read that stupid article time and time again and it never gets less moronic.

First of all, when a companie gets to where it has 50,000+ employees, aren't there bound to be employee suits of some kind? The fact that it's only 12 should be remarkable, not that there's any at all.

Secondly, I've been through the very rigorous screening process and they never once - ONCE - asked me about my religious affiliation, and I never shared it with them. They hired me based on past performance and my character, chemistry, and competence were what they were looking for.

You can carefully probe a person's character without it being discrimination. Don't you want people who work for you that have believe in your organization's values of service, hospitality, people-focused attitude, etc?

Lastly, the organizations full Corporate Purpose (which the article only took the first part of) is this: To glorify God by being a faithful steward of all that is entrusted to us. To have a positive impact on all who come in contact with Chick-fil-A.

Is that so scandalous?

6:39 PM, May 08, 2009  

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