Religious Discrimination in the Workplace

September 30, 2000

Source: The Washington Post

On September 30, 2000, The Washington Post reported that "the Defense Department has agreed to rehire a Lake Ridge woman who lost her job at the Fort Belvoir Commissary when she refused to sign a loyalty oath for religious reasons, her attorneys said yesterday. Michelle Hall, 37, had filed suit in U.S. District Court in Alexandria last December saying that an affidavit required of almost all 1.8 million executive branch employees violated the First Amendment's protections of free speech and free exercise of religion. But she and the government came to a settlement this month that reinstated her as a part-time produce worker and gave her back wages and $ 9,000 in attorneys' fees, said Rebecca K. Glenberg, legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Virginia. Government officials also agreed that Hall could substitute alternative language for the clause in the oath that she found objectionable.

Hall, a Jehovah's Witness, believed that saying 'I will bear true faith and allegiance to' the U.S. Constitution conflicted with her duty to give Jehovah her undivided loyalty. The settlement allows her to promise instead that she 'will be a loyal citizen of the United States,' Glenberg said. 'This settlement agreement is not going to affect anyone except Michelle Hall, but I hope it will increase awareness among federal agencies that they should accommodate employees who have religious objections to the oath,' Glenberg said."