Flight Attendant Refuses to Serve Alcohol to Passengers; Cites Religious Beliefs
A lthough the news of a clerk in Kentucky currently sitting in jail because of her refusal to issue marriage licenses to homosexual couples due to her religious beliefs has been one of the top stories recently in the United States, there is also the lesser-known story of a flight attendant who was suspended from her job because of her refusal to serve alcoholic beverages to passengers — also due to religious beliefs.
In a bid to get her job back with ExpressJet — a carrier which is contracted to operate regional jet service on select flights for all three legacy airlines in the United States — Charee Stanley filed a discrimination complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission of the United States on Tuesday, September 1, 2015 for the revocation of a reasonable religious accommodation, according to this article written by Emanuella Grinberg and Carma Hassan of CNN.
Stanley — who is Muslim and 40 years old — started her employment for ExpressJet almost three years ago; but she converted to Islam approximately a year afterwards. Among the things she learned this year was that her faith prohibits her from not only consuming alcohol but serving it, too — so contingent of an arrangement with of management of the airline, she would have a colleague fulfill the request of an alcoholic beverage from a passenger; and Stanley reportedly wants to continue to perform her job without serving alcohol in accordance with her Islamic faith.
Stanley was placed on unpaid administrative leave as a result of the formal complaint.
I have always felt that a job should be something a person wants to do and enjoys doing it — from which an employer should benefit as well — but if the job includes a significant aspect with which the person performing it does not agree, the person should probably consider choosing to seek employment elsewhere.
One example to which I can personally relate is when I am performing a role when I am acting part-time. If the script contains profanity — which is usually superfluous to the plot, in my opinion — I will politely refuse to perform that portion of it and recommend alternatives. Thankfully, directors have been graciously accommodating to that request; but I am usually prepared to deal with the day when the only choice is either to use the profanity in the script — or relinquish the role.
Another example is when I went to a client in Southern California which produced artwork for the packaging of pornographic videos. Before taking on that assignment of training them on how to use hardware for increased efficiency in how to create the graphic graphics – sorry, but I could not resist — I was asked if my beliefs would preclude me from wanting to conduct the training. I had no issue with it at all and agreed to conduct the training.
However, finding a job these days is not as easy as it was years ago. Technology has not only streamlined the number of jobs in a variety of professions; but it has also facilitated finding and applying for those jobs for a greater number of candidates. I can understand the hesitance of quitting a job, not knowing when a new paying position will come along. The person still has to eat and live with a roof over his or her head in the meantime; and it can be a daring yet scary proposition.
One difference in the cases based on religious beliefs between the Christian clerk in Kentucky and the Muslim flight attendant is that the law changed during the employment of the clerk — of which she had no say or control — while the flight attendant chose to convert to Islam a year after she was employed by ExpressJet. Should that difference make a difference?
I do not consume alcoholic beverages, nor am I an expert on religion; but I do recall alcoholic beverages being served aboard airplanes during flights operated by airlines based in predominantly Muslim countries — such as my first flight as a passenger aboard an airplane operated by Etihad Airways, which is based in the United Arab Emirates — and I do not recall there being any problems or issues. Could it be that none of the flight attendants were Muslim? Is there something pertaining to the provisions of the Islamic faith of not consuming or serving alcoholic beverages of which I am not aware that clarifies the difference between Stanley and the aforementioned flight attendants of airlines based in predominately Muslim countries serving those alcoholic beverages to passengers?
I personally believe that it was petty of the colleague to complain that Stanley had a book with “foreign writings” and wore a headdress. Whether it is a hijab or a yarmulke, a person should theoretically be permitted to dress accordingly to the religion in which he or she believes — and what is wrong with possessing a book with “foreign writings”?
What do you think a person should do if religious beliefs preclude him or her from performing the roles of his or her job? Should that person go against his or her beliefs and do the job anyway; or should that person quit and find a different job more suitable to his or her beliefs?