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Discrimination Provisions in Title Vii Civil Rights Act

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Part I: Summary of Relevant Religious Discrimination Provisions, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 bans employers with at least 15 employees from discriminating in the workplace due to race, color, religion, sex, and national origin. It also prohibits retaliation against persons who complain of discrimination or participate in an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) investigation (EEOC.gov, 2008). Specifically addressing an employee's genuinely held religious beliefs or practices, Title VII does not allow an employer to:

* treat applicants or employees differently based on their religious beliefs or practices - or lack of religious beliefs or practices - when it comes to recruitment, hiring, job assignment, discipline, promotion, and benefits (EEOC.gov, 2008);

* tolerate employees being harassed due to their religious beliefs or practices - or lack of religious practices or beliefs - or because of the religious practices or beliefs of people they are associated with such as friends, family or other known relationship (EEOC.gov, 2008) ;

* deny a requested, reasonable accommodation of an applicant's or employee's genuine religious beliefs or practices - or lack of religious beliefs or practices - if an accommodation will not impose more than a de minimis cost or burden on business procedures (EEOC.gov, 2008) ; and lastly,

* retaliate against an applicant or employee who has filed an EEOC grievance themselves or is official witness to another employee's EEOC grievance, or by expressing their disagreement to religious discrimination to management or Human Resources (EEOC.gov, 2008) .

Part II: Analysis of Peterson v. Hewlett-Packard Co., 358 F.3d 599 (9th Cir. 2004)

Case Background

Richard D. Peterson was employed with Hewlett-Packard's (HP) Boise office for approximately 21 years before he was fired. Prior to his firing, Peterson was deemed a satisfactory employee by HP management. Peterson's conflict with HP started when the company started displaying "diversity posters" around the office as part of its workplace diversity initiative. The posters that offended Peterson featured pictures of five HP employees. Beneath each picture was a one-word, descriptive caption specific to the featured employee. The descriptive words used in the captions were "Black", "Blonde", "Old", "Gay, and "Hispanic" along with the initiative's slogan of "Diversity is Our Strength". Another set of posters featured the same five HP employees and a description of their personal interests.

Peterson was a self-proclaimed "devout Christian" who believed that homosexuality was hated by God and a direct violation of Biblical commandments. In Peterson's opinion, HP was promoting and encouraging homosexuality by displaying the posters at work. Peterson claimed he had a duty "to expose evil when confronted with sin" by responding to the posters in the manner he did. In direct protest of the posters that said "Gay", Peterson posted two Bible scriptures in his cubicle. The scriptures were printed using large typeface, visible to co-workers, customers, and anyone else who passed by his work area. Per Peterson, the scriptures he

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