Can `religious harassment' be defined?

APROPOSED regulation that would supposedly ban religious harassment in the workplace has gotten people quite upset. They are clogging the mailboxes, phone lines, and FAX machines in Congress.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, with what it says are the best of intentions, is seeking to define religious harassment. A worker could seek legal retribution if conduct ``denigrates or shows hostility or aversion'' to someone based on his or her religion as well as his or her race, gender, age, etc.

That sounds fine. Someone should not be mistreated because of his or her beliefs, or subjected to another's religion.

The only problem is the predicament in which it puts an employer. One law firm says the issue is so volatile that it would advise banning all religious expression. So, could an employee wear a cross or a yarmulke? Keep a copy of the Bible or Koran on his or her desk? Invite a co-worker to church?

EEOC Executive Director Douglas Gallegos told members of Congress that the policy would not do any of these things. He said it is designed to protect people who are harassed because of their religion, not attack those who express religion.

The fact that Mr. Gallegos is having to go to Congress to explain this shows the problem in trying to define such harassment.... The EEOC should drop this idea. It will create a lot of needless lawsuits and probably more problems than it is trying to solve.

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