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Religion in the Workplace.

Religion in the Workplace Michael Wolf Bruce Friedman Daniel Sutherland American Bar Association 750 North Lake Shore Dr. Chicago, IL 60611 288 pp., $69.95

Reviewed by Karla J. Pierce

As its title suggests, this book by Messrs. Wolf, Friedman, and Sutherland is a comprehensive guide to the laws governing religion in the workplace. In a well-organized format, the book discusses the federal statutes, constitutional amendments, guidelines, and case law applicable to the numerous issues surrounding religion in the employment realm. Plaintiff attorneys should find this book to be an excellent, easy-to-read guide to understanding the multifaceted subject of religious discrimination, as well as a timesaving research source.

Despite being comprehensive, the book appears much longer than it is--which is attributable to the fact that the appendices and table of cases take up nearly 100 of the book's 288 pages.

Eleven of the 12 chapters end with one- to three-sentence bullet points that summarize the main points of the chapter. The summaries alone make the book worthwhile for lawyers and laypeople alike.

Chapter one provides an overview of federal laws governing religion in the workplace, including Title VII, the First Amendment, the National Labor Relations Act, and the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. Applicable provisions of the federal laws are referenced in the appendix.

Chapters 2 through 10 address various issues commonly raised in religious discrimination and harassment cases. The authors, who are all attorneys, discuss how religion is defined and when employers may be held liable for religious discrimination and harassment. They also cover a variety of issues relating to accommodation. Chapters 11 and 12 are devoted to religion in the public sector and federal workplaces, respectively.

In each chapter, the authors analyze key cases and laws that address the issues in question. When appropriate, the authors offer their predictions on how those issues might be resolved in future similar cases.

Although the book is commendable for both its comprehensive coverage and ease of reading, it is not without flaws. For instance, in addressing the burdens of proof applicable to religious discrimination cases in chapter four, the authors discuss only one of two divergent viewpoints concerning the elements a plaintiff is required to prove in order to prevail. They fail to note the viewpoint held by at least 6 of the 12 circuit courts of appeal. That viewpoint is that a plaintiff need only show that the reason given by the employer for its adverse employment action is pretextual in order for the jury to be permitted to infer discrimination. This viewpoint is generally referred to as the "pretext-only rule."

Instead, the authors state as law what is known as the "pretext-plus rule," which requires a plaintiff to actually prove that religious discrimination was the real reason behind the employer's unfavorable treatment. This is a significant oversight, especially to plaintiff attorneys seeking guidance on this issue.

Also, a few statements in the book beg for a citation. And some citations to cases beg for a more detailed discussion. Overall, however, I highly recommend the book for its in-depth coverage of a complex area of employment and civil rights law.

Karla J. Pierce practices law in Denver.
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Title Annotation:Review
Author:Pierce, Karla J.
Article Type:Book Review
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Mar 1, 2000
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