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Bible questions in job interview

Kevin Thompson
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Joined: May 04, 2001
Posts: 237
I had job interview for a java developer position. These written qustions were on the employer's form:
1. Should women be allowed to work outside of the home?
2. Is the Bible accurate in the 6 day description of the creation of the world?
3. Should the federal goverment allow prayer in the public schools?
Incredible but true! I thought I had heard and seen everything - but I can still be surprised!
Kevin
Mark Spritzler
ranger
Sheriff

Joined: Feb 05, 2001
Posts: 17250
    
    6

I think that is illegal to ask such questions.
I am really offended by it, and if you don't sue that company I will.
Mark


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How to Ask Questions the Smart Way FAQ
Jessica Sant
Sheriff

Joined: Oct 17, 2001
Posts: 4313

Originally posted by Book Review Team:
Kevin, you aren't kidding, are you?

Watch out -- a whole TEAM of people are gonna hunt down that company and hit them with books...
Manish Hatwalne
Ranch Hand

Joined: Sep 22, 2001
Posts: 2578

In which century did this thing take place?
- Manish
Frank Carver
Sheriff

Joined: Jan 07, 1999
Posts: 6920
I've seen several responses to this so far. Does anyone have any idea of (a) the intent of the people posing the questions, and (b) any other questions of a non-Java nature present on the test. Could it be that not answering these questions was in fact the right answer? Could it be that these were just part of some type of "personality test"?
Would those of you who object to these questions appearing at a job interview also object to them appearing on a miscellaneous marketing or public opinion survey? If not, what is the difference?


Read about me at frankcarver.me ~ Raspberry Alpha Omega ~ Frank's Punchbarrel Blog
jason adam
Chicken Farmer ()
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Joined: May 08, 2001
Posts: 1932
Frank's right, some companies might just be wily enough to stick such questions on their application to see if the person applying has the ethical sensibility to not answer those questions, and to perhaps even point them out to the employer.
However, with a lot of companies promoting themselves as "family" oriented and having strong religious values (though I don't know of too many in the software industry doing such), this may very well be a way for a company to select like-minded individuals that will fit in with the others, especially the boss. It is their perogative, isn't it?
That being said I would answer as follows:
1. Yes, as long as they work at drastically reduced salaries (I SOOOOO wish Pauline was here to read this )
2. Of course not, everyone knows the world is a figment of my imagination to be destroyed and created as I see fit.
3. Yes, as long as they are praying to me (see answer #2).
Kevin Thompson
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Joined: May 04, 2001
Posts: 237
I guess here is some response to people's comments ==>
Is it legal? YES! Apparently, in the USA for any company that has less than 15 employees, they can do whatever they want. They are not covered by the statutes regarding workplace descrimination.
As for what century - the interview took place last week.
And as for why it would bother me in a job interview but not in an opinion poll - is this: I have found that generally in the workplace there are so many irritating and frustrating things to have to deal with - why do I have to deal with "religious stuff" on top of it?
In the past - when I have seen management and/or co-workers with lots of religious things/pictures of Jesus/Bibles on their desk/posters of bible quotes - I generally want NOTHING TO DO WITH THESE PEOPLE! Yuck!
In the workplace, I keep my own religious and political views to myself. In my opinion, this is a polite and curtious thing to do.
People can have any religious views they want. I just don't want it shoved down my throat - especially in the workplace.
I keep my views to myself. Why can't they?
Jason: Yes it is a freedom of speech issue. I don't advocate making it illegal to ask this type of question.
Kevin
[ February 09, 2003: Message edited by: Kevin Thompson ]
jason adam
Chicken Farmer ()
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Posts: 1932
Originally posted by Kevin Thompson:
In the past - when I have seen management and/or co-workers with lots of religious things/pictures of Jesus/Bibles on their desk/posters of bible quotes - I generally want NOTHING TO DO WITH THESE PEOPLE! Yuck!

Ummm... without turning this whimsical topic into a full fledged debate, that's a rather intolerant attitude to have, and the exact attitude that the employer you interviewed with probably has towards people who think like you.
It's their cubicle, why shouldn't they be able to put things up that make them feel comfortable and centered? As long as they aren't leaving pamphlets on your desk or preaching up and down the aisles, how is that shoving it down your throat?
I guess if I put a plant on my desk, I'll offend the meat-eaters. If I put a picture of a child, I'll offend the non-breeders. If I put up a comic strip of Ziggy, I'll offend Dilbert.
But hey, that's why the phone system and email was invented, so you wouldn't have to visit people in their own little world.
If a company doesn't want to hire me because I don't share the same sort of religious, philosophical (no, the two are NOT the same), or political views, then fine by me. Probably wouldn't want to work for them anyways.
Mark Herschberg
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Joined: Dec 04, 2000
Posts: 6037
Would you care to share the name of the company?
--Mark
Thomas Paul
mister krabs
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Joined: May 05, 2000
Posts: 13974
1. Should women be allowed to work outside of the home?
Sure! I don't want the car washed in the living room.
2. Is the Bible accurate in the 6 day description of the creation of the world?
It was actually a rush job on Saturday evening.
3. Should the federal goverment allow prayer in the public schools?
Yes. Baal must be prayed to or he will destroy the world!!!



Associate Instructor - Hofstra University
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Jim Yingst
Wanderer
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Joined: Jan 30, 2000
Posts: 18671
Hmmm... did "Book Review Team" forget to log out and back in with her real account before posting?
As for the main discussion...
[composed earlier, after Frank's last post - does not reference later stuff.]
Interesting. I don't know if actually asking these questions is illegal, but I think they're opening themselves up to lawsuits from anyone rejected after taking this interview. I agree with Frank that it's very possible that the motives for asking these questions are more benign or acceptable than one might first guess - but the current phrasing of the questions is pretty stupid if that's the case, as it opens them up for lawsuits. But here are some things an employer might be trying to find out here:

Does the applicant have problems working with female co-workers in a professional manner?

Is the applicant prone to getting in religious arguments with co-workers?

These would be legitimate concerns for an employer, and they might be the actual motives for including the questions in Kevin's interview. Now I'm not sure what the best way would be to get this info is, but I'm pretty sure this wasn't it. If nothing else, a distinction should be made between what the applicant might believe privately (which is nobody else's business) and how the applicant behaves publicly in situations when these topics come up. Perhaps something like "how would you react if a co-worker told you that [insert controversial statement]?"
Kevin - what state or country is the employer based in? Might be useful to know what laws they're operating under...
[ February 09, 2003: Message edited by: Jim Yingst ]

"I'm not back." - Bill Harding, Twister
Chad McGowan
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Joined: May 10, 2001
Posts: 265
Originally posted by Kevin Thompson:

In the past - when I have seen management and/or co-workers with lots of religious things/pictures of Jesus/Bibles on their desk/posters of bible quotes - I generally want NOTHING TO DO WITH THESE PEOPLE! Yuck!

For some reason this reminded me of a quote from a classic movie:
"There are two kinds of people I can't stand in this world... People who are intolerant of other peoples cultures and the Dutch."
I personally don't care what someone chooses to put on their desk. I can think of many things that would disturb me more than a picture of Jesus on someones desk.
Mark Herschberg
Sheriff

Joined: Dec 04, 2000
Posts: 6037
A few points:
There is a difference between what one person chooses to put in his/her office, and what the company itself promotes.
Trying to see if someone would act inappropriately by creating an inappropriate situation is often a bad idea. Why not see if the person is like to sexually harassh a co-worker by putting him/her in a room with a very flirtatous, scantily clad colleague? The questions, if a test, strike me as being in the same vein.

--Mark
Matthew Phillips
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Joined: Mar 09, 2001
Posts: 2676
I am in agreement with Jason on this one. If these questions will help an employer determine if you are the right fit for their corporate culture then why not ask them? By the same token, these questions helped you to see that this is not the right company for you.


Matthew Phillips
John Dunn
slicker
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Joined: Jan 30, 2003
Posts: 1108

I had job interview for a java developer position. These written qustions were on the employer's form:
1. Should women be allowed to work outside of the home?
2. Is the Bible accurate in the 6 day description of the creation of the world?
3. Should the federal goverment allow prayer in the public schools?

Answers:
1. Should women be allowed to work outside of the home?
Only if she belongs to the oldest profession in the world.
2. Is the Bible accurate in the 6 day description of the creation of the world?
Yes, but let it be known that I rest on both Saturdays AND Sundays and every Friday afternoon after 2:00pm.
3. Should the federal goverment allow prayer in the public schools?
Yes, but only in the event of a nuclear attack during school hours.

Dude,
If they hire you, then its water under the bridge. If they don't, they're probably doing you a favor...


"No one appreciates the very special genius of your conversation as the dog does."
Chris Mathews
Ranch Hand

Joined: Jul 18, 2001
Posts: 2712
Originally posted by Chad McGowan:
For some reason this reminded me of a quote from a classic movie:
"There are two kinds of people I can't stand in this world... People who are intolerant of other peoples cultures and the Dutch."

I don't think I would call Austin Powers 3 a "classic".
Mark Herschberg
Sheriff

Joined: Dec 04, 2000
Posts: 6037
Originally posted by Matthew Phillips:
I am in agreement with Jason on this one. If these questions will help an employer determine if you are the right fit for their corporate culture then why not ask them? By the same token, these questions helped you to see that this is not the right company for you.

By that logic, you should ask about race, marital status, etc. I mean, if they guy's a racist, he should just save everyone time and require race be on the resume, right?
I fail to see how asking these questions can help an employeer decide on an employee. Let's suppose the current company culture involves weekly bible discussions. The correct question to ask is, "We have weekly bible discussions. Would you be interested in participating? Would that offend you?" I'm all for indiect questions for seeing how people think, but for everything else, direct is the way to go.

--Mark
John Dunn
slicker
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Joined: Jan 30, 2003
Posts: 1108
Hmmm... I'm not sure if you are implying that anyone who takes offense here is being intolerant. Bells should go off in one's head here.
Intolerance is not a crime. I'm intolerant of the Klu Klux Klan, Anti-Gay groups, White Supremists, Militant ??? Religious groups etc. No crime there. In my opinion, it is not a crime for an individual to think and have bigoted thoughts.
The letter of the law may not have been broken with less than 15 folks, but the spirit of the law was and that says something very, very loud to me. If I took a job there would I end up having to fire one of my really good workers because one of the executives heard/saw that they were gay, pregnant, etc. If they disregard one law, why not another? After watching the Matthew Sheppard movie, (the gay young man murdered in Idaho, for being gay), I would not think twice about questioning folks that push their religion too much.
If I really wanted the job, I'd want to know that I could be think for myself without any repercussions. A good interview is a two-way street.
BTW, 15 or more employees is the cap for federal laws but each state has their own state and local laws. In NYC many laws apply to companies with 4 or more employees. So where I live these guys would be definitely breaking laws that we have all dealt with and thus acting by their own laws.
SJ Adnams
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Joined: Sep 28, 2001
Posts: 925
clearly a troll.
Kevin Thompson
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Joined: May 04, 2001
Posts: 237
Simon: You mean I am the troll?
I was really asked these questions at a job interview. I know it seems bizarre and sort of unbelievable. I was quite surprised!
What was sort of "out of this world" about it - is that the questions were written down! Not something that slipped out of their mouth - they actually had the questions prepared in writen form prior to the interview.
It happened in Dallas Texas, last week. (This is Baptist country). It was a very small company - possibly only 6-8 employees. And it is a new company. As far as I can tell, they have been in existence for about 2 years. It was a 3 page form, and had about 30-40 questions. About 1/2 dozen questions were religious - the rest were not religious. It was a personality test of some sort.
What is weird about it is that I am not for sure that this company is religious. I am more inclined to think that they have no clue!
I guess it doesn't make me angry - maybe it should because my time was pissed away. But it just confirms to me that the world is so full of nut people.
And a comment for the people who think I am intolerant. It is a freedom of choice issue.
I want nothing to do with these things:
1. Companies who ask Bible questions in interviews.
2. Co-workers with Jesus pictures and bible stuff all over their desks.
3. People who say they have been abducted by aliens.
4. People covered with homemade tatoos made in prison.
5. and so forth
I just don't want these things around me. People are free to do whatever they want. And I am free to choose who I associate with.
However, I did learn some lessons. I need to do some more screening before I send resumes out and before I interview. Just because somebody advertises an open java developer position, doesn't mean I should send a resume. I need to be more selective.
I have always known that I perfer to work for larger companies. And this interview just confirms that. I would never see this sort of thing at a larger company.
[ February 10, 2003: Message edited by: Kevin Thompson ]
Matthew Phillips
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Joined: Mar 09, 2001
Posts: 2676
Originally posted by Mark Herschberg:

By that logic, you should ask about race, marital status, etc. I mean, if they guy's a racist, he should just save everyone time and require race be on the resume, right?
I fail to see how asking these questions can help an employeer decide on an employee. Let's suppose the current company culture involves weekly bible discussions. The correct question to ask is, "We have weekly bible discussions. Would you be interested in participating? Would that offend you?" I'm all for indiect questions for seeing how people think, but for everything else, direct is the way to go.

--Mark

I'm not saying that I believe that these questions make good business sense. Discrimination is both a good and a bad thing. You've stated that in your hiring practices that you tend to shy away from people who have certifications and no experience. That is discrimination. It is discrimination based of your experiences with hiring these types of candidates. Racial discrimination is both bad business and illegal. I personally think that religious descrimination is a bad idea. If if is not illegal and someone wants to do it, then they may feel free. They will lose good employees to their competitors that way and the free market will take care of itself.
If someone has a real concern about hiring me based on my race, religion, experience, etc., I want to know about it up front. I don't want to waste their time or mine working in that situation.
Theodore Casser
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Joined: Mar 14, 2001
Posts: 1902

There's nothing particularly wrong in my mind with sending out resumes for any open Java developer position you find listed. But this kind of thing does definitely show the advantage to interviews and to looking more in-depth at a company before you accept a job with them.
As for the earlier comments about "what folks keep in their cubicles is their business"... remember that we live in an age where the entire work environment, including one's "personal" space in an office, is subject to laws about tolerance. What is innocent to one person isn't quite to another - to one person, having a cross or a picture of Jesus is appropriate, but to others (myself included) that's over the line.
IMHO, the office is a place for business. (Tasteful) Pictures of family, friends, SO's and minor displays of one's personal life are fine, but religion, like politics, is something best left outside of the workplace...


Theodore Jonathan Casser
SCJP/SCSNI/SCBCD/SCWCD/SCDJWS/SCMAD/SCEA/MCTS/MCPD... and so many more letters than you can shake a stick at!
Rufus BugleWeed
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Joined: Feb 22, 2002
Posts: 1551
Why not see if the person is like to sexually harassh a co-worker by putting him/her in a room with a very flirtatous, scantily clad colleague?

I think this is sexually harassment.
Back to the thread.
1. yes, Baptists aren't Amish. I've worked with an Indian that would not let his wife drive. Our boss, a woman, really liked the guy. :roll:
2. If you believe in the 6 day model, that means you don't have to work a seven days a week and don't expect anyone else to either? yes
3. I prayed before every math test. Since the federal government can't stop it, yes.
SJ Adnams
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Joined: Sep 28, 2001
Posts: 925
well i guess a small company in a small town can get away with it.
if it happened here (London) it would be headline news & the boss thrown in prison.
Mark Herschberg
Sheriff

Joined: Dec 04, 2000
Posts: 6037
Originally posted by Matthew Phillips:

I'm not saying that I believe that these questions make good business sense. Discrimination is both a good and a bad thing.

Of course not (I wasn't thinking you were for religious discrimination). Yes, we all discriminate. We all also stereotype; psychologists call it scripts ("You're a programmer? I'll bet you're good at math.")
What I have a problem with is the topic. I'd like to live in a color blind world where we can ignore race altogether. We don't, so when the government needs to look at the race of laon applications in order to insure that all races are treated equally, I understand. Likewise, I understand why religious questions are not allowed during interviews.

Originally posted by Matthew Phillips:

If someone has a real concern about hiring me based on my race, religion, experience, etc., I want to know about it up front. I don't want to waste their time or mine working in that situation.

Again, I agree. But they way to go about it is not to ask about their view of creationism but to say "Religion is important to us, what is your religious view." Indirect questions lead to misunderstandings and confusion.
--Mark
jason adam
Chicken Farmer ()
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Joined: May 08, 2001
Posts: 1932
Kevin, you have all the right to be intolerant towards the things you mentioned, all I was stating is that it was possible the company was trying to avoid hiring people who would be intolerant towards their beliefs. Wasn't in anyway trying to slight you or your beliefs
Go with the direct approach that Mark mentioned, just ask em what the heck the questions were for. The only time I've seen personality tests like this were from headhunter type companies that wanted to match people with appropriate businesses. Never actually took them, though. Why? Because like Mark also mentions, such indirect ways of assessing people give me the eebie-jeebies, so I personally avoid them.
Theodor, in my opinion if you don't allow one thing, you don't allow any of it. Now if someone overdoes it, and makes their cubicle a shrine, then yes a manager should stop in and correct the situation.
But if they have a calendar with religious sayings, or a cross on the side of their monitor, then that is probably just as personal to them as pictures of family, friends, or Poochie, and is still tasteful.
And let's not jump to extremes here and say "Well what about the satanist that wants to have candles of unbaptized baby-fat sitting on their desk?"
You mention SO, well if a homosexual man or woman has a picture of them and their partner on their desk, guarantee you that will offend someone (unless you work in a VERY progressive company). AND that person probably has a problem with it due to religious and/or political reasons. So if that person can't have that picture on their desk, then the heterosexuals that surround them shouldn't be able to put pictures of their family on their desk either, right?
You're right, an office place should be tasteful. A simple religious saying on the inside of a cubie isn't distasteful, it's an expression of that person, just like pictures of family and friends are expressions of who that person is, just like drawings that your kid makes, or a little porcelain image of your cat.
When it comes down to it, its the company that sets the policy, within the framework of the law. If you don't like it, quit and find another company to work for, or start your own company and set your own policy.
You might not agree with it, but then if we all agreed we'd be flying around space in a big giant cube assimilating people.
frank davis
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Joined: Feb 12, 2001
Posts: 1479
Originally posted by Mark Herschberg:

I fail to see how asking these questions can help an employeer decide on an employee.
--Mark

Perhaps the company is involved in producing religious products (educational literature & software, audio, video, etc) and part of your job duties could be to QA the stuff in which case you have to know when the product would be defective from a religious point of view.
Matthew Phillips
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Joined: Mar 09, 2001
Posts: 2676
Originally posted by Mark Herschberg:

I'd like to live in a color blind world where we can ignore race altogether.

I couldn't agree more. Since it will not happen I want to see the questions that point to discrimination based on race, religion, sex, etc. That way I know right up front who the real asses of the world are.
Originally posted by Mark Herschberg:

But they way to go about it is not to ask about their view of creationism but to say "Religion is important to us, what is your religious view." Indirect questions lead to misunderstandings and confusion.

Agreed.
Mark Herschberg
Sheriff

Joined: Dec 04, 2000
Posts: 6037
Originally posted by herb slocomb:

Perhaps the company is involved in producing religious products (educational literature & software, audio, video, etc) and part of your job duties could be to QA the stuff in which case you have to know when the product would be defective from a religious point of view.

A fair point, but in that case it should be pretty obvious why the company is asking those questions. :-) I don't think this was the case here.

There was a great "King of the Hill" episode about this. Hank is trying out questions on his son, Bobby, when his wife points out certain questions are illegal. The next day when he has an interview, he asks the following.

If you could have lunch with any of the following, who would it be:
A) Jesus
B)Moses
C)Ghandi
...

:-)

--Mark
[ February 10, 2003: Message edited by: Mark Herschberg ]
Thomas Paul
mister krabs
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Joined: May 05, 2000
Posts: 13974
Originally posted by Simon Lee:
if it happened here (London) it would be headline news & the boss thrown in prison.

Throwing someone in prison for asking a question about religion in an interview seems a bit on the extreme side. What's the punishment for sexual harrasment? Send the culprit to the Tower?
jason adam
Chicken Farmer ()
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Joined: May 08, 2001
Posts: 1932
Originally posted by Thomas Paul:

What's the punishment for sexual harrasment?

A spanking! A spanking!
(because we all know what comes after that... )
Gregg Bolinger
GenRocket Founder
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Joined: Jul 11, 2001
Posts: 15299
    
    6

Originally posted by Kevin Thompson:
I want nothing to do with these things:
1. Companies who ask Bible questions in interviews.
2. Co-workers with Jesus pictures and bible stuff all over their desks.
3. People who say they have been abducted by aliens.
4. People covered with homemade tatoos made in prison.
5. and so forth
[ February 10, 2003: Message edited by: Kevin Thompson ]

WOW!! You ruled out about 98% of the American Population. You might get lonely.


GenRocket - Experts at Building Test Data
Chad McGowan
Ranch Hand

Joined: May 10, 2001
Posts: 265
Originally posted by Theodore Casser:

having a cross or a picture of Jesus is appropriate, but to others (myself included) that's over the line.

You have a very small margin on your side of the line. I would rather see a small cross on someone's desk than a lifsized picture of Spock (no offense to the Trekkies), but neither is over the line. These are just items used to personalize ones cubicle.
What is the difference between a cross and a globe??
Better watch out, the globe may offend those who still believe the world is flat!
Abadula Joshi
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Joined: Sep 01, 2002
Posts: 126
What if the employer puts "The answers to the following questions will not affect the interview outcome" ?
Bear Bibeault
Author and ninkuma
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Posts: 61217
    
  66

What if the employer puts "The answers to the following questions will not affect the interview outcome" ?

Then why ask them in the first place?
bear
[ February 11, 2003: Message edited by: Bear Bibeault ]

[Asking smart questions] [Bear's FrontMan] [About Bear] [Books by Bear]
frank davis
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Joined: Feb 12, 2001
Posts: 1479
Originally posted by Bear Bibeault:

Then why ask them in the first place?
bear
[ February 11, 2003: Message edited by: Bear Bibeault ]

The answers themselves would not count, that is there would be no right or wrong answer, however, how you responded may count, for example, very defensively answering, "I'm going to sue you!", may influence the outcome negatively, etc. Maybe an attiitude test to test your appreciation/tolerance of other cultures and beliefs...
Marc Peabody
pie sneak
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Joined: Feb 05, 2003
Posts: 4727


1. Should women be allowed to work outside of the home?
2. Is the Bible accurate in the 6 day description of the creation of the world?
3. Should the federal goverment allow prayer in the public schools?

Perhaps those questions would have been more appropriate if disguised as Java questions:
1) Should the class Woman allow access to its getWork() method to objects outside of the home.house.* package, or should Woman be declared as protected or private?
2) Is there data integrity when a client calls getTruthOfCreation() [which accesses the context initialization parameters] and receives the following parameters: methodOfTruth='Holy Bible' numOfCreationDays='6'?
3) The scope of the class "constitution", which implements the public interface "separationOfChurchState", is protected. Should the class "ourPublicSchools" be placed in the same package so that it can extend "constitution" and implement "separationOfChurchState?


A good workman is known by his tools.
Matt Sarney
Greenhorn

Joined: Sep 06, 2001
Posts: 3
Why don't we just end this?
US EEOC
To quote:
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII), which prohibits employment discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin;
Under Title VII, the ADA, and the ADEA, it is illegal to discriminate in any aspect of employment, including:
  • hiring and firing;
  • compensation, assignment, or classification of employees;
  • transfer, promotion, layoff, or recall;
  • job advertisements;
  • recruitment;
  • testing;
  • use of company facilities;
  • training and apprenticeship programs;
  • fringe benefits;
  • pay, retirement plans, and disability leave; or other terms and conditions of employment.


  • Judging from this (I am not a lawyer) I would say that all 3 questions are illegal if the company has over 20 employees (look at eeoc website) or if there are other similar laws in Texas.
    [ March 05, 2003: Message edited by: Matt Sarney ]
     
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