Did Religion Knock Astronomer Out of Running for Job?

C. Martin Gaskell, who is an astronomer by trade, also happens to be an evangelical Christian. In his lawsuit, "Gaskell v. University of Kentucky," Gaskell contends he was denied a job because of his religious beliefs, reports The New York Times.

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The lawsuit brings up two major issues. First, is whether Gaskell's religion did indeed knock him out of contention for employment. The hiring committee at the University of Kentucky became aware of his beliefs after conducting an Internet search. The second issue is whether certain religion beliefs do disqualify individuals from effectively carrying out a particular job. For example, can a scholar who is a creationist teach a course in evolution?

Federal law prohibits discrimination based on religion, so it was unusual that Gaskell was questioned about his religion during the job interview. Regardless, Gaskell contends that he was asked! On a positive note, at least the issue is out there in the open. Others who apply for jobs might have no indication that an Internet search was done on them, their religion was viewed as a possible problem, and their application was subsequently tossed. Given "Gaskell v. University of Kentucky," those who suspect that this could have happened as a result of being "Googled" might investigate, find evidence of discrimination related to their religious beliefs, and then likewise file suit.


Jane Genova

Editor

Jane Genova http://janegenova.com began focusing on transitions when the academic market collapsed as she was writing her dissertation in linguistics and literature at the University of Michigan.  After re-establishing herself in the public relations industry, she gradually published on the subject.  Her first piece was on The Professional Woman in THE WALL STREET JOURNAL.  Since then, she co-authored the book THE CRITICAL 14 YEARS OF YOUR PROFESSIONAL LIFE and myriad e-books and articles on career subjects ranging from emotional intelligence to aging.  In the 1980s she attempted another change by attending Harvard Law School.  She didn’t complete the degree but channeled that experience into maintaining a legal blog [http://lawandmore.typepad.com] housed at the Library of Congress.

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Henry

How about someone who is not religious applying to a position at a "Religious" employer? I have applied to positions at a local Christian, I use the term loosely, School for an Accounting Clerk position and they required: signing a statement of complying with their beliefs and a note from my "Pastor" stating I was good, church going, person. Is this discrimination? How about the Church run Hospitals that require you to sign a statement of, promoting healing through the religious priciples of their particular denomination. Is that discrimination? Oddly enough, I applied at a local Jewish Temple for an Accounting Clerk position and the only questions asked pertained solely to the qualifications for the position. Nothing about any religion, Jewish or otherwise.

December 20 2010 at 12:21 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
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Lee Harrison

Is it discrimination to not hire a Christian Scientist to work in a doctor's office or pass up a Roman Catholic to work at Planned Parenthood? I think an employer would be foolish not to research a candidate. Anyone who's active in their church or any other activity is going to end up on the internet and those activities might sway a decision one way or another.

December 20 2010 at 12:27 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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