my boss wants us to meet with a spiritualist to fix the negative energy in our building — Ask a Manager

here are the 10 best questions to ask your job interviewer — Ask a Manager

A reader writes:

I work at a small nonprofit and recently the employee with the longest institutional knowledge just left her position because of the years of abuse, micromanagement, and overwork she endured.

Now, the executive director is trying to set up an all-staff meeting with a “spiritualist” so that she can figure out why there has been so much negative energy in the building. Setting aside the issue that she will find any way to avoid responsibility for her bad behavior, I feel deeply offended that I’m being required to attend a consultation and a subsequent “cleansing.” I don’t have a connection with this sort of spiritual practice and it feels unethical to require staff attendance, but is it illegal?

Disgruntled Nonprofit Employee Attempting to Leave a Toxic Work Environment

Yes! Or rather, it would be illegal if they refused to let you opt out if you frame it as a religious accommodation.

Say this: “My religious tradition doesn’t permit me to participate in that, so I will not be attending.”

Religious accommodations apply to lack of faith as well as faith, by the way. Legally, your employer cannot require you to participate in someone else’s religious or spiritual ritual/observance/practice if it’s contrary to your own bona fide religious beliefs or lack thereof.

If you’re told your boss wants you there anyway, say this: “We can’t legally require that and could get in trouble for trying to.” If you need to cite the law, it’s Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Caveat: that law only applies to organizations with 15 or more employees, although some states have laws that kick in at lower numbers. If you’re not covered … well, honestly, you might try it anyway because your boss sounds clueless enough that she might not figure that out. Otherwise, just call in sick.

Also, I hope she hires this man.

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