Hiring New Austin Employees and Religious Preference


Austin Startups often find success and begin the recruiting process to help fuel future growth.  There are typically no HR experts in the Austin startup team and legal knowledge of advertising and recruiting is typically slim. to none.  Keep an eye out for intentionally or accidentally involving religious preference in your recruiting.

Religious Preference for Future Austin Startup Employees

This article will relate to Texas employers who advertise over the internet. I believe this is a very normal scenario and is applicable to almost all employers operating in Texas. The Texas laws regarding religious discrimination in the workplace are slightly less clear than, say, Colorado’s laws but the federal laws still outlaw commenting on religion in any part of the hiring process. Advertising for an employee candidate is almost always going to trigger applicability of federal law but advertising for your position via a medium that crosses interstate borders, such as the internet or print mail, certainly does trigger the applicability of federal law non-discrimination laws.

There is an exception to Title VII’s religious hiring requirements but that that exception applies only to entities whose purpose are religious and who actually behaves with a religious purpose. The determination that a company’s purpose and behavior are religious in nature is very fact specific. In other words, it will be very lucrative for the attorney to to prove that your business is religions. There are no other exceptions to Title VII’s prohibition against using religion during employment decisions.

Title VII of the Civil rights Act of 1964 makes it unlawful to make employment decisions based on religion, with only the one exception described above. The EEOC interprets that rule to mean that “invidious barriers to employment,” such as an advertisement to “work in a Christian environment” are also contrary to Title VII.This is because people of other faiths are very likely to be too uncomfortable to apply for a job with a company that represents itself in such a way during an employment activity. It is not lost on the EEOC or courts that companies who advertise this way hope applicants of other faith will be too uncomfortable to apply for such positions. None of this is to say that that an organization or other employees cannot have religion in the workplace, just that you cannot make employment decisions based on religion. This is an extremely fine line and I highly encourage Texas employers to find an attorney and explore ideas related to religion in the workplace if your organization is religious or has religious employees, particularly religious supervisors. Abercrombe & Fitch, a Lutheran school, and UT Southwestern Medical center all recently received holdings that may complicate or add nuances to the rules employers can use to hire based on ideas, hunches, or comments regarding religion.

Recent Hobby Lobby activity and activity related to providing health care coverage has not dealt with Title VII matters and is not applicable to this discussion.

Inspiration from this article was derived from a very well written article on this topic from Colorado available at: http://www.rmlawyers.com/religious-minorities-need-not-apply-legal-implications-of-faith-based-employment-advertising

Please contact Austin Startup Attorney Natalie Lynch if you need legal advice on this topic.

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