Comstock's magazine 1218 - December 2018 - Page 26

n EVIL HR LADY DILEMMA OF THE MONTH how to handle an activist employee by Suzanne Lucas ILLUSTRATION: JOHN CHASE O ne of our employees is a vegan activist, and has started posting material on the “evils of eating meat” outside his cubicle or leaving them strewn around shared spaces (in the kitchen, near the copier, etc.). Is there anything I can do about this behavior? He also gets offended if anyone fails to provide a vegan option when treats are brought in, whether by a colleague or for a company-sponsored event. Is this a protected behavior/belief system? A 26 | December 201 8 LET'S TAKE THIS SITUATION AND FLIP IT. You know that religion is a protected class and you can’t discriminate on the basis of religion. But you’d never allow an employee to tell others they were go- ing to burn in hell, leave religious litera- ture all over the office or pitch a fit when someone brings in food that doesn’t meet their strict religious code. You’d rightly say, “You are welcome to pray over your food, wear whatever religious clothing or jewelry you want and to post a picture of the deity of your choice in your cube. But this is a busi- ness, and there will be no proselytizing or condemning of others.” While courts have held that vegan- ism can be considered a religion under Title VII (which deals with all protected classes), you don’t have to turn your business into a church of veganism. The law specifically states: “The law protects not only people who belong to traditional, organized religions, such as Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam and Judaism, but also others who