Target has just done what 40 years of religious right advocacy couldn't. They've now reinterpreted the 1964 Civil Rights Act to include permitting individual religious right bigots to discriminate against YOU in public accommodations so long as they claim that discrimination is based on their religion.
What that means? Target is claiming the 1964 Civil Rights Act gives their employees the right to do whatever they want to any customer so long as the employee claims their actions are motivated by their religion. Funny, but when we studied civil rights in law school, I don't remember that section of the Civil Rights Act.
Here's what Target is saying, then read my analysis below:
Dear Dave,Now, the 1964 Civil Rights Act certainly does protect religious folks against discrimination in the workplace. But the kind of discrimination it refers to would be, for example, Target saying "we're not going to hire Christ killers," or, "man we hate those Baptists, none of them get promoted at Target." Yes, that would be illegal under the '64 act.
Target is extremely disappointed that Planned Parenthood is spreading misleading information about an alleged incident at a Target pharmacy in Missouri and our policies on emergency contraception. The accounts being reported are inaccurate and exaggerated. Our policy is comparable to that of many other national retailers and the recommendations of the American Pharmacists Association.
Target consistently ensures that prescriptions for emergency contraception are filled. As an Equal Opportunity Employer, we also are legally required to accommodate our team members' sincerely held religious beliefs as required by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. In the unusual event that a Target pharmacist's sincerely held religious beliefs conflict with filling a guest's prescription for emergency contraception, Target policy requires our pharmacists to take responsibility for ensuring that the guest's prescription is filled in a timely and respectful manner. If it is not done in this manner, disciplinary action will be taken.
Target abides by all state and local laws and, in the event that other laws conflict with our policy, we will follow the law.
We appreciate the opportunity to clarify our position and correct misinformation.
Target Executive Offices
But Target is now saying, outright, that the 1964 Act covers any action a Target employee takes so long as the employee claims the action is motivated by his or her religion. Though, then they turn around and say that their religious employees have no such rights at all (see further down).
As mentioned before, Target's explanation above would appear to sympathize with Target Christian employees who don't want to serve Jews - or at the very least, the Jewish person's right to a public accommodation under the Civil Rights Act would be equaled in gravity to the employee's religious right to hate Jews. Could Target's fundamentalist employees who hate gays tell them to leave the store?
And what's worse, the 1964 Act would, I'm pretty sure, pre-empt local civil rights laws that are in contradiction to it - so under Target's interpretation, Target may have just negated all local civil rights laws protecting gays in public accommodations. The federal law trumps the local law, and they say the federal law gives their religious bigot employees the right to not serve customers so long as they have a religious reason.
And even better, could a Target manager who is Baptist fire a gay employee simply for being gay, in violation of local civil rights laws protecting gays in employment, because such discrimination is religiously based and federal law protects such religiously-motivated discrimination, per Target's apparent interpretation of the law?
Target needs to come clean. Does Target or doesn't Target give its employees carte blanche to discriminate against its customers so long as the employee claims their religion is offended? And if Target doesn't give its employees carte blanche, then what IS Target's standard for determining when their employees get to play the religion card, and when they don't?
One final legal note to Target. You are going to get your asses sued by your religious employees, and you just gave them the document they need to nail your ass.
At the end of your email above you write the following:
In the unusual event that a Target pharmacist's sincerely held religious beliefs conflict with filling a guest's prescription for emergency contraception, Target policy requires our pharmacists to take responsibility for ensuring that the guest's prescription is filled in a timely and respectful manner. If it is not done in this manner, disciplinary action will be taken.Well, here's your problem. Your employee thinks abortion is murder and refuses to fill prescriptions that "assist in a murder." You say that his or her refusal to assist in a murder is covered by the '64 Act since it's against their religion. But then you say that your employee is required to assist in the "murder" anyway by making sure the prescription is filled in a timely and respectful manner. So, you're mandating that your religious employees assist be accomplices to murder, something that clearly violates their religious beliefs, yet you previously claim that coercing your employees to take such actions is illegal under the 64 Act. I think you've got a problem here.
If it's assisting murder for your employee to put my pills in a plastic jar and hand them to me, then it's also assisting murder for your employee to pick up the phone and call another pharmacy to place my order for "murder pills." There's no difference. It's like saying it's against my religion for me to murder someone, but I have no problem handing a murderer a gun so that he can murder the pregnant woman standing in front of me. You honestly think your fundie employees are going to let you get away with this?
Congratulations, Target. Just keep digging that hole.