Blog of Rights

Now Hiring (Some Exclusions May Apply)

By Dena Sher, ACLU Washington Legislative Office & Tyler Ray, ACLU Washington Legislative Office at 10:29am

Right now, the White House is wholly focused on getting people back to work. That should be great news for the American people. Why is it then that the administration has a damaging policy that actually limits certain jobs to only certain people? By allowing religious organizations that receive taxpayer money to hire (or fire) for government-funded positions based on religion, the Obama administration is limiting the job pool for all Americans

With the current unemployment rate at 9.1 percent and no new jobs created in August, the administration shouldn't have a policy that permits religious organizations to discriminate against otherwise qualified applicants for government-funded jobs because they don't share the same religious beliefs as their potential employer. When using their own funds, religious organizations have the right to choose employees based on religion. But, when jobs are paid for with taxpayer dollars, no organization can discriminate in hiring for those positions — every single, qualified person should be eligible for any job funded by the government to provide social services to those in need.

On September 8, President Obama spoke to a joint session of Congress, laying out his jobs plan and stressing the need to get people back to work. One part of his plan would prohibit employers from discriminating against the unemployed in hiring decisions. While it is heartening to hear the president's commitment to extending antidiscrimination protections to the unemployed, we wish he would show the same commitment to ending religious hiring discrimination in government-funded jobs.

The ACLU, along with its coalition partners, sent a letter to the president seeking clarity on the position he articulated at a July town hall meeting, urging him to uphold his commitment to restore the longstanding protections against government-funded religious discrimination in hiring.

It is going to take a comprehensive approach to get Americans back to work. Including not only policies that promote job creation, but also policies that prohibit employment discrimination.

You can join the ACLU and its coalition partners in asking the president to stop allowing organizations who receive government funding from discriminating on the basis of religion and help bring down all barriers that prevent Americans from getting back to work.

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