We can take pride in the fact that New Zealand is a democratic society and our freedom is guaranteed. So what was Sky City thinking of when it threatened to dismiss an employee for having a small pocket sized Bible on her at work?
“If the reading of her bible took place in those times when she was entitled to a break from her work-related duties, her employer’s action is clearly an infringement of her personal freedom and gives a negative message about Sky City’s views on religious faith to the more than 50% of New Zealanders who are Christians,” says Lyndsay Freer.
Read Lyndsay Freer’s opinion piece below
In their attempt to ban the carrying of a small bible in an employee’s pocket, Sky City learned the hard way that personal freedoms are not to be tampered with.
We New Zealanders take pride in the fact that we live in a democratic society where religious freedom is guaranteed by the Bill of Rights. Clearly, the carrying of a small Bible in this woman’s pocket could not reasonably be regarded as a breach of uniform code if it was there for her own personal use and she was not attempting to enforce her beliefs upon others.
If the reading of her bible took place in those times when she was entitled to a break from her work-related duties, her employer’s action is clearly an infringement of her personal freedom and gives a negative message about Sky City’s views on religious faith to the more than 50% of New Zealanders who are Christians, as well as to those of the many other religious faiths that make up our society. One might consider it an oxymoron for a casino to take the high moral ground, and might ask just what kind of an employer is Sky City when they can subject a long-time employee of sixteen years service to such embarrassment, anxiety and discrimination.
What will Sky City do next? Forbid staff members to wear a cross, or the Star of David around their neck, or to display some other religious symbol such as the head scarf? And what would be their policy if an employee of the Islamic faith wished to take regular time away from duties to observe the prayer schedules at certain times of the day? As I understand it, under New Zealand law, employers are not permitted to discriminate against the employment of people on grounds of ethnicity, gender or religion. The public outcry over the pocket bible might be a salutary lesson to them.
Lyndsay Freer is a Media Consultant and spokesperson for the Catholic Diocese of Auckland
Image: Diocese of Auckland
News category: Opinion.