Not Christian Enough? Job Seeker Sues Company for Asking When He Was ‘Saved’
(LINCOLN, Neb.) -- The Voss Lighting Company of Lincoln, Neb., doesn't hide its religious light under a barrel.
"Our biblical mission," an online statement reads, "is to 'sell' our lighting products so that we may 'tell' everyone we can about God's soul-saving, life transforming gospel message..."
Perfectly legal, says Patrick Holman, an attorney with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
"The Commission has no problem with a corporation having religious values," he says.
But Holman does have a problem with a corporation using religious values to make hiring decisions.
Holman and the EEOC are representing an Oklahoma man, Edward Wolfe, who says he was denied a job at Voss because he wasn't Christian enough.
"It's unique," Holman says. "I haven't seen anything like it since I've been here."
Wolfe says he applied for a job as Operations Supervisor at Voss's Tulsa, Oklahoma store.
In the complaint filed against Voss by the EEOC, Wolfe says he saw the position on a church website. His first interview went well, but in a second interview with the branch manager, he told lawyers, he was questioned about his religious practices and beliefs.
According to the complaint, the manager asked Wolfe "to identify every church he has attended over the past several years; where and when [he] was 'saved' and the circumstances that led up to it."
In the interview, Wolfe claims he was told most employees at Voss were Southern Baptist, but employees could go to any church, as long as they were "born again."
The complaint claims the manager asked Wolfe if he would "have a problem" coming to work early, without pay, to attend Bible study.
Wolfe, a single parent who says he cannot attend church on Sundays, told lawyers the branch manager was "agitated" at his answers.
He didn't get the job.
The suit is filed under Title VII, part of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which makes it illegal to discriminate in hiring on the basis of religion.
In a statement, the company denies Wolfe was turned down for the job "as a consequence of his religious beliefs." Vice president and general manager Steve Sanderson writes, "The individual hired by Voss had more lighting product experience and was more qualified."
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