Friday, May 04, 2007


Should a taxi driver be allowed to refuse a fare for religious reasons [that is, reasons that offend the driver on religious grounds, not reasons based on the religion of the fare]?

Question the Second:

Is there any job where an individual should be allowed to refuse to serve a particular customer/execute a specific task for religious reasons?

Don't it always seem to go
That you don't know what you got 'til it's gone


Zhubin said...

Hell no. He should quit his damn job. You let that slide and pharmacists will start insisting that they don't have to prescribe drugs they find religiously offensive.

dyk said...

Sure, just like his employer should be able to fire him for turning down customers. Same applies for the pharmacy.

Zhubin said...

Oh, I thought the question was asking if there should be some sort of legal protection to allow him to refuse a fare for religious reasons.

Jeff said...

In my view, an employer should make a reasonable effort to accommodate the religious beliefs of his/her employees, but if their religious beliefs prevent them from doing their jobs (as is the case with the cab driver and pharmacist), they should just find other jobs.

Here's a novel concept - if a job requires you to violate your religious beliefs, don't take the job. It's like an Orthodox Jew taking a job as a hog butcher and then complaining about all the unkosher stuff he has to come into contact with.

Matthew B. Novak said...

Isn't there a reasonable distinction to be made between religious beliefs that prevent them from doing their job entirely and religious beleifs that prevent them from doing a particular task on the job?

If I'm a doctor - or even more specifically, a gynecologist - and I object to performing abortions, I can still provide a wide range of services, such that I would still be doing my job. Or if I'm a pharmacist who objects to Plan B, same deal. Or if I'm a taxi driver who objects to transporting people with alcohol, I can still pick up most of my fares, and thus still be doing my job, right?

I'll give you that there are certainly jobs that religion would prevent someone from doing (your Orthodox Jew example), but isn't there a more moderate view out there?

Zhubin said...

If your employer wants to keep you on the job, sure, whatever. But you shouldn't have any right to keep your job otherwise.

Jacob said...

Exactly. There are some cases where the person should obviously not take the job and others where some accommodation might be acceptable, but I can't imagine trying to come up with a legal standard to define this. This is a matter better left to bargaining between employers and employees.

Matthew B. Novak said...

Ok, so if the employer is fine employing pharmacists who don't prescribe Plan B, or doctors who don't provide abortions, or cabbies who won't pick up people with alcohol, that would be ok? Or do you think we should have laws that say cabbies must pick up all fares/doctors provide all services/pharmacists fill all prescriptions?

In addition, are there any accomodations/protections we should make sure employers offer to employees? Protection for taking off religious holidays? Or should that be left to the market too?

the marvelous patric said...

if the driver is a satanist and the fare is a priest on the way to an exorcism, then maybe.

Jeff said...

Jacob is probably right. If the pharmacist's employer discovers that he/she's losing too much business by employing a pharmacist who doesn't dispense Plan B, the pharmacist will get fired, and I don't see how the pharmacist could have a legitimate gripe. Similarly with the cabbie - a lot of a cabbie's job is to take intoxicated people home from the bars, and if the cabbie refuses to take such fares, he - and whoever he works for - will be losing money pretty damn quickly.

As it is, I don't like the pharmacist/doctor allegory because they have to deal with professional ethics as well as financial considerations. Their employers might not mind if they refuse to dispense Plan B, but the ethics board might have an issue... there's no ethics board for cabbies.

Patric - what if the cabbie were Satan?