The freedom of worship and conscience is one of the basic human rights and freedoms as contained in the Universal Human Rights Declaration. In the case under discussion, the respondent was a former employee of Trans World Airlines (TWA). Hardison was sacked on the grounds of insubordination on refusing to render his services on Saturdays due to his religious beliefs. He sued TWA with a solid claim that his religious beliefs were not accommodated reasonably. The court upheld that reasonable efforts were made to provide accommodation and suggested possible alternative courses of action.
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Do you feel the alternatives suggested by the court of appeals were viable for TWA? Why or why not?
In the Foregoing case, the options fronted by the Appeals Court were unviable and could have inflicted undue hardship on Trans World Airlines. The company made reasonable considerations to accommodate Hardison’s religious orientation. The first alternative suggested that TWA allowed Hardison to work for four days a week by deploying another employee from any other department in the company or utilizing a supervisor.
The deployment of another member of the workforce from any department would have amounted to undue hardship on TWA since the firm would have to halt the operations of one of its shops. Besides, the deployment of a supervisor would not be a tenable option since such a person would be denied his or her privileges as secured in the collective bargaining agreement according to the workers union (Dankey & Hartman, 2009, p. 510).
According to the Court of Appeal, TWA could have employed the services of another employee who was available to work during Saturday’s shift. However, the firm would have faced premium overtime costs. With such additional costs, the company would have invoked the undue hardship clause on the discrimination guidelines. This is attributable to the fact that religion was not accommodative. The last alternative is also unviable since TWA and the workers’ union had entered into a seniority system; the agreement bound the company from facilitating a swap. Consequently, TWA cannot be faulted for failing to facilitate a shift for Hardison. Such a move would have been tantamount to the violation of the seniority system (Dankey & Hartman, 2009).
Does it seem inconsistent to prohibit religious discrimination yet say that a collective bargaining agreement cannot be violated to accommodate religious differences?
The prohibition of religious discrimination in a scenario where collective bargaining agreements are immune to the violation of the accommodation of religious beliefs is quite consistent with the laid down the legal framework. Title VII exempts a discriminatory purpose from accommodation requirements (US Supreme Court Center, 1977).
Notwithstanding the legal loophole, the operation of a discriminatory collective bargaining agreement about accommodation on the grounds of religion is inconsistent with the law of equity. It sounds absurd that civil law requires employees to be provided with reasonable accommodation regarding their religious beliefs. On the same note, collective bargaining agreements can rob off employees of that right. Collective bargaining agreements should be made in the light of the laid down legal framework as well as the law of equity.
Based on the chapter reading, how would you have handled this conflict if you had been Hardison’s manager?
Managers are bestowed with the responsibility to guarantee the laid down policy and legal frameworks. Furthermore, they are expected to organize, control, and safeguard their companies’ resources, physical, financial, and human resources. Putting into perspective the onus on the shoulders of managers, the conflict confronting TWA’s management can only be best handled through a litigation process. Managers would not prefer to antagonize labor unions and other members of the workforce in a bid to provide religious accommodation in an unprocedural style.
The court decision emphasizes the need for employers to commit themselves to explore the available options before refusing or granting accommodation. Also, the mere existence of undue hardship arising from the provision of accommodation is not sufficient for an employer to refuse an employee accommodation on religious ground. The firm must put into perspective the extent or quantity of the undue hardship before denying accommodation.
Dankey, B. D., & Hartman, L. P. (2009). Employment Law for Business (6th ed.). New York: McGraw-Hill Irwin.
US Supreme Court Center. (1977). Trans World Airlines, Inc. v. Hardison – 432 U.S. 63 (1977). Web.