Sometimes situations develop and there are almost no words to respond. And yet, they can not be passed by with out comment. These are the moments that I wish I was a poet, an artist, or a diplomat. Being none of these things, I can only share my thoughts and some research I’ve done on the situation.
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 lists the areas in which employers cannot discriminate based on, in their treatment of employees and job applicants. It seems like the civil rights movement that spurred the passing of this law was a long time ago, and that the issues of segregation are long past. Politicians would claim we have moved beyond racism, but while we may have advanced to the point where we have laws, emotions and thoughts are hard to legislate. These may translate into words, which can create awkward and unpleasant situations.
When there is so much talk about Islamic terrorists and danger from fundamentalists, the issue of religious discrimination is frequently associated with these alarming stories, but when other stories about other religions make the news, it is possible that negative news stories can related to poor treatment at the work place. After the sex abuse scandal involving Catholic priests, some Catholic men might have felt pressured to defend themselves when they wanted to work with children.
But when a story is in the news about a religion not affiliated with your own, and you still receive negative comments that are generalized to include your entire state of origin it is difficult to know what to say. Is there an appropriate way to respond to a comment that the scenery might be nice but not the people, when you grew up in that place and all your family still lives there? Especially if this is a potential employer during an interview?
Perhaps that is the time to realize that even if they were to offer you the job, in spite of their negative view of your religion and state of origin, you do not want to work with someone who feels that way. Even if they never act on it, the workplace environment will be intolerable, a continuation of the negative atmosphere at the job interview. The law might step in and say that they can’t not give a job to someone because of their religion, but they can’t make me want to work with someone who will judge me based on a religion I don’t even belong to, and erroneous ideas about my background. If I am willing to do the research to prepare myself for a job interview, they should at least consider doing some research before they make snap judgments about my state and supposed religion.