For the second time during this quiet week in late August, pregnancy is in the headlines.
The first time, of course, involved Rep. Todd Akin, a candidate for the U.S. Senate from Missouri who claimed – and then swiftly retracted – that women who are “legitimately raped” don’t get pregnant. That’s led pregnancy – and abortion politics – to dominate news coverage.
But here’s another story with pregnancy at its core: this week, a federal judge in Manhattan ruled that a former buyer for fashion house Gucci can move forward with her case alleging that the luxury-goods company fired her after she became pregnant.
We continue our examination of the many things today's CEOs need to keep in mind -- things they may not have taught in business school. Today, it's the sometimes hot-button issue of the role of religion in the workplace, this time with a look at a recently-filed lawsuit that’s drawn considerable public attention. (See also here and here.)
Now, most businesses have some sort of dress code, including Zuckerman Spaeder. When a company’s employees routinely interact with customers and the public – say, a retail store or restaurant – many employers go beyond a simple dress code in an effort to establish a company-wide uniform “look.” Perhaps no place on earth goes quite as far as Disneyland, where employees are considered “cast members” and – even when not dressed as a giant cartoon mouse – are asked to reflect certain “themes” throughout the park.
So what happens when one of those “cast members,” a young Muslim woman working as a hostess at a Disney café, requests the right to wear a hijab, the traditional Muslim headscarf?
If you’ve had any sort of a working life, then you’ve been asked at least one odd question on a job interview. My personal favorite is why manhole covers are round.  But the oddest interview question I’ve ever been asked was: “Who was Saint Thomas Aquinas?” In my panic and surprise, my mind confused its files labeled “English Religious leaders named Thomas from the Middle Ages,” and I described for my interviewer Sir Thomas More. My interviewer – a leading lawyer at a very prestigious New York firm – sat silently for a moment, and then lectured me on how I apparently didn’t have the liberal arts background necessary to work at his firm.
Setting aside how happy I am, in retrospect, that I didn’t wind up working for someone who would grill me about medieval history, it is rare that any job interview question involves saints or other facets of religious belief. Most employers don’t delve into that subject with candidates – either they don’t care to inquire, or they don’t believe religion (or lack of it) has any bearing on the quality of an employee’s work.
We cover a broad range of issues that arise in employment disputes. Occasionally, we also spotlight other topics of relevant legal interest, ranging from health care to white-collar defense to sports, just to keep things interesting.
Led by Jason Knott and Andrew Goldfarb, and featuring attorneys with deep knowledge and expertise in their fields, Suits by Suits seeks to engage its readers on these relevant and often complicated topics. Comments and special requests are welcome and invited. Before reading, please view the disclaimer.