Flight attendant: my religion entitles me to avoid serving liquor

New at Politico Europe, my piece on the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission complaint by a Muslim flight attendant, covered here last week, who doesn’t want to serve alcohol (“scruples about screwpulls”) and what, if anything, it has in common with the Kim Davis case. (As a direct legal matter, not much.) I reference the EEOC v. Star Transport case:

Here’s the thing: The EEOC has already sided with Muslim employees who wish to avoid handling alcohol….If Charee Stanley or a future counterpart someday wins the right to bob and weave through the passenger cabin, handing out only beverages that meet with her spiritual approval, she’ll have this record of Congressional posturing to thank.

Surprisingly or otherwise, the pressure for federal law to become more indulgent toward private employees’ demands for religious accommodation — thus turning cases like Stanley’s into more likely winners — has come both from liberal lawmakers like John Kerry and Hillary Clinton and from conservatives like Rick Santorum and Bobby Jindal.

Related: “No one should have to choose between their career and religion,” proclaimed Stanley’s lawyer. Really? No one? Ever? [Andrew Stuttaford, Secular Right] My Cato colleague Ilya Shapiro on why West Coast florist Barronelle Stutzman is far more deserving of martyr status than Kim Davis (my two cents, leading to GoFundMe “campaign not found”). And dear #kimdavis meme-slingers: be advised that Dallas judges are under no legal obligation to do weddings [Taylor Millard, Hot Air]


  • If I hire you and you understand the job description includes serving alcohol and you take the job and then refuse to perform you will be fired. Don’t really care what some nutcase judge says.
    Can this case be expanded to include Muslims who work at clothing stores and refuse to sell bikinis? Miniskirts? Short shorts?

  • What if someone applies for the job of State Executioner and then complains that his/her religion prohibits taking someone’s life?

    • That’s when you get into what counts as a reasonable accommodation.

      I don’t think you’re going to find any court willing to say that accommodating an objection to the job’s primary duty is reasonable.

      I think the Flight Attendant case is a little iffy. Yes, serving alcohol is only part of the job, but it’s a significant part and there is rarely room for the FA’s to move past each other or the carts during beverage/food service. Personally I don’t see how any accommodation short of not having her help with beverage/food service at all would be workable, but then that is almost half the job.

  • Almost a Catch-22 situation when one can’t ask about religion in a job interview.

  • Given the current state of death penalty litigation, and the (non) availability of the drugs which make up the previously preferred cocktail, there is a non-negligible chance in a typical elected service career that your religious faith and the core requirement of your job would never come into conflict, Speed. Assuming they did, however, as I understand the current state of both Federal and State law on this issue, no “reasonable” accommodation could be reached between your religious faith and THE core job requirement of a State executioner. I believe you would quickly eligible to be out of a job, assuming some statute existed to remove you from office for dereliction of your official duties.

    Of course, if the means is a recall election of some sort, depending on the state, you may have a lengthy career yet ahead of you.

  • On your comment about Dallas judges not being required to perform weddings:

    1. The clerk objected to being part of the new institution of marriage as defined by the courts and did not discriminate in who she would serve, she refused to issue ANY certificates. The Dallas judge DID discriminate against Hetero couples. Doesn’t this give you at least some cause to think you might not be given a fair shake if you are a Het and came up against a LBGT opponent in her court? True or not, it would bring into question her impartiality.

    2. It is also true that Oregon judges need not perfrom weddings, isn’t it? And that hasn’t stopped folks from leaking the ethics investigation of Vance Day. So far, the only thing I have seen is that for a few months, he refused to do SSMs before deciding that it would be better to just not do any marriages at all. The concern seems to be that this presented the impression taht he would not be fair to LBGT folks in his court. This is the source of my suggestion about the Dallas judge above. If there is more, fine. But I suspect the LEAK was based on his views of marriage.

    I really feel that this is all the fault of the courts. By doing an end run around the legislatures, they set the stage for this kind of thing before the ‘political’ branches could set up rules for reasonable accommodations. And it is not like there was no warning of the need for this. Didn’t they testify that they would be able to use the force of our tax code to crush opposition if they prevailed?

    I will confess that I do think Kim Davis should have resigned if I understand her beliefs correctly. As the clerk, isn’t she certifying the certificate whether her name is on it or not? But I do think we and the courts should give deference to what a person says are their beliefs and not try to second guess them.

    I am neither pro nor con on SSM, I just dislike handing over the decision to that ’eminent tribunal’.

  • It is odd to say that Dallas judge Tonya Parker “did discriminate against heterosexual couples.” She declined to marry any couples at all. She is a judge in a court hearing civil suits; performing marriages is not a duty of her particular office, merely a discretionary function she may exercise if she cares to. This in contrast to Kim Davis whose official duties include issuing the paperwork she refused to issue.

    >”Didn’t they testify that they would be able to use the force of our tax code to crush opposition if they prevailed?”

    The undefined “they” makes this sound like a tale told third-hand. I can only guess that it refers to the now-infamous comment by Solicitor General Verrilli which luckily does not represent even an official tax position of the Obama administration (bad as their thinkers are) let alone something that “they” can expect to get away with doing:


    On the Verrilli comment, as on many other specific controversies, I agree with conservatives who want to push back against the craziness that goes on in the name of egalitarian ideology here. But circulating bogus and easily refuted memes treating Tonya Parker and Kim Davis as equivalent simply discredits that conservative response.

  • Walter,

    My apologies.

    I had not read the actual link you posted closely enough and misunderstood the details. After glancing at it, I was pretty sure that the judge was the same one I had read about elsewhere. Naturally, I cannot find the article so I either lost it, misread it or it was flushed down the the internet memory hole (can you have three items in one either clause?) I could have sworn I picked up the story of a Female judge who had refused, specifically, to preform mixed sex marriages while officiating at SS ones from a reasonably reliable news source(not Hot Air, Red State or such). I appear to have been imagining things.

    On my Verrilli comment: I should have been more specific but my point was not that anything has been done or even will be in this specific case. Rather it was that the government was staking out the position that it COULD do so. That authority, on its own, is a very powerful lever for controlling behavior whether used or not.

    Though I will also freely admit that tackling the Roman Catholic Church and others who share their beliefs would be harder than taking on Bob Jones University so success would be less certain.

    I do think that your polite refutation of my comment shows a lot about the reason that more speech and debate is better than silencing opposition speech.