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Workplace discrimination exemption sought by faith group

Some workers in Missouri could be impacted if approximately 140 religious leaders and those advocating for religious freedom get their way. They have signed a letter to the president requesting that he exempt faith-based groups from his executive orders that protect lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered federally contracted government workers from discrimination.

Executive orders focusing on workplace discrimination against this targeted group of individuals does not include an exemption for religious groups whose beliefs perceive homosexuality to be a sin and consider marriage to only be an option for one woman and one man. These groups would be forced into the choice of abandoning their belief system or ending their services.

Some religious groups are under contract with the federal government for the provision of vital services, including programs under the auspices of the Bureau of Prisons, relief for overseas charities, technical assistance, research and other services for departments in the federal government. Part of their employment agreements with their workers include certain religious standards and conduct that is consistent with the doctrines of their faith.

Their letter stated, "it would be wrong to require them to violate those legally protected convictions in order to be eligible to receive federal contracts." The signers conclude that if President Obama issues his order, an exemption should be included.

Whether the executive order provides the exemption the group is seeking or not, workers experiencing harassment on the job due to their real or perceived sexual orientation can turn to the court system to be vindicated and/or compensated for damages and possibly lost wages. A Missouri employment law attorney can offer advice when making the decision whether to take legal action or not.

Source: The Christian Post, "Faith Group Leaders to Obama: Protect Religious Freedom in LGBT Workplace Discrimination Order," June 26, 2014

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