An employee of the Colorado Department of Education claims she was punished after she stopped attending her supervisor’s lunch time Bible study sessions. She says she has emails that show her as a required attendee and felt as if she was in a hostile workplace after she told her supervisor she no longer wanted to attend the bi-weekly sessions. She has since filed a complaint with the Colorado Civil Rights Division.
According to the woman’s attorney, after she declined to attend the sessions her work environment went downhill. She also notes that the Bible study sessions take place on state property, used state resources and time. Numerous emails obtained by local news outlets show that, for the time being, the Bible classes have been cancelled.
A Human Resources Director from the CDE has written to the Colorado Department of Regulatory Agencies denying all allegations of retaliation, discrimination and harassment. The letter continued by stating that if the employee had informed her supervisor that she no longer wished to attend the sessions or talk about church activities, the supervisor would have stopped discussing religious issues. Both women still work at the CDE in the Office of Professional Services and Educator Licensure. The Colorado Civil Rights Division has yet to act on the complaint the employee filed in September.
Bible study in the workplace generally is not off limits. However, employers must walk a fine line when these types of sessions occur. It must be clear that attendance is voluntary and that there will not be repercussions for any employee who wishes to stop attending or chooses never to attend.
Source: KSDK, “Lunch-hour Bible study draws official complaint”, Chris Vanderveen, December 06, 2013