Religious Discrimination?

The internet is filled with examples of religious discrimination lawsuit cases brought about by Seventh-Day Adventists who claim they have been victims. These victims believe they have a right to work and that the law makes provision for their religious beliefs to be respected. The United States of America is plagued with such cases where one
is fired because of his refusal to work on the Sabbath. St Lucia may not have had a famous lawsuit case filed against a company for religious discrimination, however, there are many Seventh-Day Adventists who believe they were fired as a result or not even hired because they refuse to work on Saturdays.
On July 31st, 2012, in a 2-1 decision, a federal appeals court in the US ruled that a lower court erred in dismissing a suit filed by Kimberly Crider against the University of Tennessee at Knoxville (UTK).
Crider, a Seventh-day Adventist, was hired as one of the university’s programs-abroad coordinators in May 2008. Four days after her hire, she told her supervisor that she would be unable to work between sundown on Friday and sundown on Saturday because of her religious beliefs. After Crider was assigned to work on a Saturday the following month, she proposed different accommodations that were rejected by her supervisor and colleagues. Refusing to work on a Saturday, Crider was fired.
The court’s ruling stated: “UTK and the district court imply that it is Crider who has the duty to accommodate UTK’s needs and that ultimately she is the one being unreasonable . . . A Saturday Sabbatarian’s request for every Saturday off of work due to their religious needs is not per se unreasonable . .  .It is debatable whether UTK fulfilled its duty to reasonably accommodate Crider.”
“We stop short of holding that an employee requesting religious accommodation can never be treated differently,” the appeals court added. “The very nature of this type of accommodation requires that, where an employer operates its business on Saturdays, a Saturday Sabbatarian’s accommodation will require another employee to work a Saturday shift.”
After reading this report, one now questions whether LUCELEC’s dismissal of Andrea Vidal was unreasonable. Did the company do all in its power to make reasonable accommodations for Vidal—a long time working employee? Of the 29 years Vidal worked at LUCELEC, why didn’t her Sabbath become an issue before this incident?
These are questions one would have to ask after examining the facts. But according to the company, the facts remain that Miss Vidal signed an agreement stating that she was obligated to work on the Saturday. Vidal could argue that the agreement was signed prior to her becoming a Seventh-Day Adventist, however, an agreement signed is an agreement sealed. The question is, should the company have made some “reasonable accommodations” for Vidal now that she is a Seventh-Day Adventist? Can a religious belief override terms and conditions of an agreement?
It remains to be seen whether these questions will be answered, if at all the company or Vidal decides to make them known to the public. This may very well be a lesson learnt for the company and perhaps, even other companies may be safeguarding the interests of their company where this matter is concerned.
But enough on that for now, let us examine Sabbath keepers and working on Saturdays. According to the Seventh-Day Adventist belief, they keep the requirements of the fourth commandment, which are as follows:
“Food is to be prepared on Friday and no cooking is to be done on Sabbath (Ex. 16:22-26; Ex. 35:2-3).  God’s people are to work six days but rest on the Sabbath (Ex. 20:8-11; Deut. 5:12-15).  The injunction to rest included the members of the household, servants, visitors, strangers to the household, and even beast of burden (Ex. 23:12).  Even high work demand should not be made an excuse to work on Sabbath (Ex. 34:21), and Sabbath time should not be used to prepare for or to engage in a commercial enterprise (Neh. 13:15-22).  No buying should be done on the Sabbath (Neh. 10:31), no work done profit or gain (Jer. 17:21-27; Neh. 13:10-22).  The Sabbath is to be used for holy convocations (Lev. 13:3) and worship of God (Isa. 66:23).  Jesus even instructed His disciples to pray that fleeing from the yet to come destruction of Jerusalem not be on the Sabbath (Matt. 24:20).”
According to the Church, while it is written Sabbath keepers should not work on the Sabbath, certain workers are obligated to work on Saturday. The bible, the church says accounts for that,
“The Scriptures make note of several groups of individual who were required to work on Sabbath.  The priest had extra duties to perform because the sacrifices were more numerous on the Sabbath (Num. 28:9-10), and the preparing and changing of the showbread in the temple was done on Sabbath (Lev. 24:5-9; 1 Chron. 9:32). The priest performed circumcision on Sabbath when that was the 8th day after birth. Jesus did not fault the priest for this use of the Sabbath, but extended the concept to include doing deeds of mercy on Sabbath (John 7:23-29).  Jesus stated that His father worked and so did He on Sabbath (John 5:19). Many instances in the life of Jesus illustrate the appropriateness of meeting the needs of those who are suffering on the Sabbath. Groups, who must work on Sabbath, or work harder on that day, include religious leaders and those who care for the sick.”
A famous Seventh-Day Adventist writer, Ellen G. White puts it this way: “Sabbath work is an obligation for some individuals.  Persons in this group do not live above the law, are not exempted from its requirements, but fulfill the law in the highest sense.  God will not hold the person guiltless who fails to relieve suffering on any day of the week.”
Jesus used the episode of His disciples picking and threshing grain with their hands when hungry on the Sabbath to point out that meeting human need is not contrary to God’s will (Matt. 12:1-9; Mark 2:23-28 ; Luke 6:1-5).  In the days of Jesus, the religious leaders had obscured God’s will for keeping the Sabbath by burdensome requirements inspired by Satan (DA 284).  Jesus restored the true concept of Sabbath keeping by His words and acts.
Jesus performed five miracles of healing on the Sabbath
1. The man at the pool of Bethesda ill for 38 years (John 5:1-18).
2. The beggar blind from birth (John 9:1-41).
3. The man with dropsy (Luke 14:1-6).
4. The woman with an infirmity for 18 years (Luke 13:10-16).
5. The man with the withered hand (Matt. 12:9-13; Mark 3:1-6; Luke 6:6-11).
Two miracles were actually performed in the synagogue.  For each miracle, Jesus’ enemies condemned Him for Sabbath breaking.  In each case the one healed had a chronic disease or condition that might have been deferred until a week day.  In three cases Jesus cited the need of a person as being more legitimate than that of an animal being pulled out of a pit or being lead from the stall to drink on the Sabbath.
When it comes to essential services, the Church writes under guidelines for Sabbath observance: “In order to uphold the sanctity of the Sabbath, Seventh-day Adventists must make wise choices in matters of employment, guided by a conscience enlightened by the Holy Spirit. Experience has shown that there are hazards in choosing vocations which will not allow them to worship their Creator on the Sabbath day free from involvement in secular labor. This means that they will avoid types of employment which, although essential for the function of a technologically advanced society, may offer problems in Sabbath observance,” The General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists Executive Committee at the General Conference Session in Indianapolis, Indiana, on July 9, 1990.
The church further states that in such instances where a Sabbath keeper works in essential services, arrangements should be made with employers prior to taking up employment in that area. If that does not favor the Sabbath keeper, the Church further recommends the employee to make arrangements with other Non-Sabbath keepers and when that fails, the Church reminds the employee of the specific Sabbath guidelines he or she should follow while performing duties on the job.

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