Religious descrimination.
Subject: Religion (Analysis)
Employers (Religious aspects)
Employment discrimination (Analysis)
Author: Nimon, Kim
Pub Date: 06/22/2011
Publication: Name: Annals of the American Psychotherapy Association Publisher: American Psychotherapy Association Audience: Academic; Professional Format: Magazine/Journal Subject: Psychology and mental health Copyright: COPYRIGHT 2011 American Psychotherapy Association ISSN: 1535-4075
Issue: Date: Summer, 2011 Source Volume: 14 Source Issue: 2
Topic: Event Code: 290 Public affairs; 360 Services information
Product: Product Code: 9101217 Religion NAICS Code: 92219 Other Justice, Public Order, and Safety Activities
Organization: Government Agency: United States. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
Geographic: Geographic Scope: United States Geographic Code: 1USA United States
Accession Number: 264672501

In Encountering Religion in the Workplace, Gregory reviewed the legal rights and responsibilities of workers and employers by presenting a series of court cases involving religion and the workplace. Although it is not quite clear how the court cases were selected, some of the cases may provide interesting fodder for corporate chaplains and their stakeholders. However, perhaps a more impactful message of the book relates to trends Gregory presented regarding claims of religious discrimination in the workplace.

In my review of Encountering Religion in the Workplace, I relate Gregory's reports to statistics and information from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). Readers unfamiliar with the EEOC and its role in the protection of employees rights are directed to the EEOC Web site ( and a previous column I wrote describing an EEOC case involving a workplace chaplain (Nimon, 2009). As always, I am interested in your feedback and invite you to respond by sending me an e-mail at or contributing to my blog at

In Encountering Religion in the Workplace, Gregory reported that the EEOC resolved 2,700 religious discrimination claims in 2008. Of those resolved claims, he indicated that the EEOC dismissed 63% of the claims due to lack of support and 22% due to administrative issues. Of the resolved cases, 9% were settled, and "in only 6% of the resolved cases did the EEOC investigators actually find that the complainant had been discriminated against." To get a broader perspective of the data that Gregory presented, I went to the EEOC Web site ( and reviewed definitions of terms and related statistics.

Table 1 (see top of next page) lays out Gregory's statistics alongside EEOC statistics and definitions that readers of Encountering Religion in the Workplace may find useful. In particular, it appears that Gregory merged administrative closures with withdrawals with benefits when he indicated that 22% of religious discrimination charges resolved by the EEOC were "summarily dismissed for various administrative reasons. Also note that although only 6% of the cases that EEOC resolved in 2008 were classified as reasonable cause, those classified as settlements or withdrawals with benefits might also be considered by the EEOC to be consistent with reasonable cause findings. Given EEOC definitions, it appears that up to 20.7% of the religion-based charges that EEOC resolved in 2008 might be considered reasonable cause findings, a much higher percentage than the percentage of resolutions directly classified as reasonable cause.

I next used statistics from the EEOC Web site (http://www.eeoc. gov/eeoc/statistics/enforcement/index.cfm) to see how the total number of resolved religion-based charges compared to other resolved claims of discrimination. As Figure 1 shows, when compared to race, sex, age, disabilities, and national origin, religious discrimination was the lowest type of charge resolved by the EEOC in 2008.

Although the number of religious-based claims resolved by EEOC in 2008 appeared to be low, Gregory suggested that the trend of religious discrimination claims was on the rise in contrast to other forms of discrimination:

In recent years the number of religious discrimination charges filed has increased dramatically. In contrast, the filing of race and sex discrimination charges, while remaining far more numerous than religious claims, have declined rather than increased. Since those trends appear to be holding, experts in this area of the law predict that conflict involving religion in the workplace will, in the years to come, continue to plague workers and their employers.

I was curious what Gregory meant by recent years and dramatically, given his choice of the word plague. I reviewed his chapter notes to see what sources were used to support his claims. It appears that Gregory used a secondary source from 2004 to support his assertion that religious discrimination claims were on the rise in comparison to other forms of discrimination and that he used "EEOC Charge Statistics for years 1993-2003" (p. 249) to suggest that the trend was holding.

Given the secondary nature of Gregory's first reference and the date of his second reference, I used charge statistics from the EEOC Web site ( to examine the number of religious-based charges filed with EEOC and compared them to charges of other forms of discrimination. Table 2 supports Gregory's assertion that claims of religious discrimination have generally been on the rise. It also supports Gregory's assertion that claims of sex and race discrimination were on the decline at times when the claims of religious discrimination were on the rise. However, since 2006, it appears that the upward trend in discrimination claims was not isolated to religion-based charges. Charges of discrimination based on national origin, disability, and race also appear to be on an upward trend.



Although claims of religious discrimination are not alone in being on an upward trend, the number of religion-based charges filed with the EEOC appears to have doubled over the last 13 years. The only form of discrimination that comes close to that level of increase is national origin. While Gregory provided no data that links religion-based and national origin-based charges of discrimination, Gregory did provide data indicating that religious discrimination is prevalent across nearly every religious group in the United States.

Reviewing the results of 2001 report published by the Tanenbaum Center for Interreligious Understanding, Gregory indicated that 77% of Muslim, 70% of Christian, 67% of Jewish, and 56% of Buddhist workers surveyed were "troubled about the presence of religious bias in their workplaces." He also indicated that 20% of Christian, 17% of Muslim, 12% of Buddhist, and 6% of Jewish workers surveyed "disclosed that they had personally been subject to acts of religious bias on the job."

Given the percentage of workers experiencing religious bias in the workplace, one might wonder why the number of charges filed with EEOC remains low. Gregory's review of a 2003 report published by the Tanenbaum Center for Interreligious Understanding may explain why. He suggested that although "American workers believe that they have been subjected to some form of religious bias at work, they have chosen to suffer in silence rather than report those incidents." He then went on to suggest that as greater number of workers find themselves involved in religious conflicts, they will be less inclined to suffer in silence, which will result in a greater expansion in the filings of religious-based claims with the EEOC.

Gregory portrays a rather bleak future of religious discrimination in the workplace. Readers of Annals and those involved in corporate chaplaincy programs must take heed of the possibility that employees are suffering in silence and do all that they can do to create a conducive work environment when integrating religion in the workplace. Readers are reminded of two practices that I suggested in 2009 when reviewing EEOC v. Preferred Management Corporation:

1. Supervisors and managers should avoid expression regarding religious activities performed or facilitated by workplace chaplains that might be perceived by subordinates as coercive.

2. Employers should have an anti-harassment policy that covers religious harassment. The EEOC Web site indicates that such a policy should:

* Clearly explain what is prohibited.

* Describe procedures for bringing harassment to management's attention.

* Contain an assurance that complaints will be protected from retaliation.

* Include multiple avenues for complaint.


Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (n.d.) Definition of terms. Retrieved April 1, 2011 from

Gregory, R. F. (2011). Encountering religion in the workplace (p. 28, 42-43, 98). Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press.

Nimon, K. (2009). A cautionary tale. Annals of the American Psychotherapy Association, 12(3), 77-78.

KIM NIMON, PhD, is an assistant professor at the University of North Texas, where the main tenet of her research agenda focuses on improving human performance through the practice of workplace spirituality. She became aware of corporate chaplaincy programs during her doctoral studies and began researching how they fit within the larger context of workplace spirituality. Her research on workplace chaplains has been published by the Journal of Management, Spirituality, & Religion and the International Society for Performance Improvement.

This article is approved by the following for 1 continuing education credit:

The American College of Forensic Examiners International is an NBCC-Approved Continuing Education Provider (ACEP) and may offer NBCC-approved clock hours for events that meet NBCC requirements. The ACEP solely is responsible for all aspects of the program.

The American Psychotherapy Association[R] provides this continuing education credit(s) for Diplomates and certified members, who we recommend obtain 15 credits per year to maintain their status.

KEY WORDS: Selflessness, abandonment, guilt, trauma, masks.

TARGET AUDIENCE: Psychologists, counselors (particularly addiction counselors), social workers, medical doctors, psychiatrists, nurses, vocational counselors, clergy, teachers.

PROGRAM LEVEL: Intermediate

DISCLOSURE: The author has nothing to disclose.



The author introduces the term "trait addiction" as an addiction category that corresponds to, but is distinct from, substance and activity addictions. Selflessness is the central character trait of the addiction to please. The Selfless Personality Scale measures degrees of selflessness and indicates the presence of an addiction or disorder. Benevolent acts such as compliance, kindness, and accommodation initially evoke respect and admiration; however, the excessive (obsessive) and relatively exclusive focus upon others ultimately yields false relationships, emotional emptiness, and social isolation. Severe anxiety, depression, and suicidal tendencies are not uncommon reactions when the addiction to please begins to fail as a coping style.

The origin of the addiction is related to a history of traumata stemming from abandonment, sexual or physical abuse, or neglect from primary caregivers. In an effort to compensate for feelings associated with these early traumata, the unconscious constructs the caretaker-please syndrome. Guilt and (abandonment) anxiety keep this other-focused lifestyle intact. However, when the incessant giving of the please addict is experienced as manipulative and controlling, receivers avoid contact with them.

In terms of diagnostic considerations, the addiction to please is distinguished from other personality disorders and other forms of deferential behavior, such as altruism, martyrdom, and co-dependency. Treatment obstacles include the patient's reluctance to renounce the benefits derived from pleasing, the fear of having no other recourse for maintaining meaningful connections to others, and the role of guilt. In addition to a Relational Analytic, the author recommends a variety of adjunctive interventions. The concepts of change and cure are discussed.


(Answer the following questions after reading the article)

1. Selflessness is always:

a. suspect

b. benign

c. a central trait of the please addict

d. admirable

2. Medication for "please" types is:

a. helpful

b. an affect inhibitor

c. anti-therapeutic

d. curative

3. The key to successful treatment of pleasers is:

a. insight

b. relief from guilt

c. relationship with therapist

d. group therapy

4. The origin of the addiction to please is the product of:

a. birth order

b. child's desperation to connect

c. identification with parent

d. parental neglect

5. Which characteristic of the caretaker-please personality is the most deceptive?

a. independence

b. advice giving

c. boundless energy

d. dependency

6. The Mask of Kindness (compulsive pleasing) is:

a. deceptive

b. a defense mechanism

c. camouflage for trauma

d. a benign coping style

7. Receivers reject pleasers because:

a. they cannot be trusted

b. the pressure to receive

c. they don't accept gifts

d. they have difficulty with closeness

8. Caretakers are:

a. mostly female

b. equally male and female

c. co-dependents

d. warm and affectionate

CE accreditions for this ARTICLE

This article is approved by the following for 1 continuing education credit:

The American Psychotherapy Association[R] provides this continuing education credit(s) for Diplomates and certified members, who we recommend obtain 15 credits per year to maintain their status.

KEY WORDS: SOAPIE, narrative narration, subjective and objective evaluation, qualitative and quantitative evaluation, multi-trait/multi-method evaluation design

TARGET AUDIENCE: Mental health professionals

PROGRAM LEVEL: Intermediate

DISCLOSURE: The author has nothing to disclose.



The study used a structured record-keeping format (SOAPIE) to measure the accuracy of "narrative" charted notes from a multidisciplinary team, evaluating 18 patients on two psychiatric units. The results indicated a major problem in identification of a patient's presenting problem, its documentation, and clinical intervention in an accurate and appropriate manner while using the "narrative" documentation format.


(Answer the following questions after reading the article)

1. What is SOAPIE?

a. A CBT coping strategy

b. An unstructured method of evaluation

c. A structured method of evaluating inpatient behavior

d. A standardized testing procedure used with inpatients

2. What does the acronym SOAPIE stand for?

a. Subjective data, objective data, assessment data, plan, intervention, evaluation

b. Service data, obsessional behavior, assessment, plan, intervention, evaluation

c. Satiation, OCD, assimilation, plan, interstices, evaluation

d. Satisfaction, objective, assimilation, plan, interconnection, evaluation

3. What are the advantages of "narrative recording" with inpatients?

a. It is subjective, "open-ended," and requires little perseverance.

b. It uses a common form of expression, can address any event or behavior, and provides multidisciplinary ease of use.

c. It is a semi-structured method of evaluation of inpatient behavior.

d. It is a structured and objective form of written notation evaluating patient behavior.

4. What is objective evaluation?

a. A factual way of collecting measurable data from inpatients' observed behavior

b. Information that is assumed to have occurred

c. Information received from a "third party" who witnessed the inpatient's behavior

d. A combination of subjective and objective information collected in a random way

5. What is subjective evaluation?

a. Information obtained and interpreted from a personal point of view

b. Information obtained in a structured, prearranged format that was observed to have occurred by the clinician

c. Data collection that is collated and interpreted against a "normed" sample

d. Information that is measured, evaluated, and codified against a standard
Table 1
Religion-Based Resolutions for FY 2008 by Type

Gregory     Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)

Percent %   Percent %   Type             Definition

63.0        62.5        No Reasonable    "EEOC's determination of no
                        Cause            reasonable cause to believe
                                         that discrimination occurred
                                         based upon evidence obtained
                                         in investigation. The
                                         charging party may exercise
                                         the right to bring private
                                         court action" (EEOC, n.d.,

22.0        16.8        Administrative   "Charge closed for
                        Closures         administrative reasons, which
                                         include: failure to locate
                                         charging party, charging
                                         party failed to respond to
                                         EEOC communications, charging
                                         party refused to accept full
                                         relief, closed due to the
                                         outcome of related litigation
                                         which establishes a precedent
                                         that makes further processing
                                         of the charge futile,
                                         charging party requests
                                         withdrawal of a charge
                                         without receiving benefits or
                                         having resolved the issue, no
                                         statutory jurisdiction"
                                         (EEOC, n.d., [paragraph]1).

            5.1         Withdrawals      "Charge is withdrawn by
                        with Benefits    charging party upon receipt
                                         of desired benefits. The
                                         withdrawal may take place
                                         after a settlement or after
                                         the respondent grants the
                                         appropriate benefit to the
                                         charging party" (EEOC, n.d.,

9.0         9.3         Settlement       "Charges settled with
                                         benefits to the charging
                                         party as warranted by
                                         evidence of record. In such
                                         cases, EEOC and/or a FEPA is
                                         a party to the settlement
                                         agreement between the
                                         charging party and
                                         the respondent (an employer,
                                         union, " or other entity
                                         covered by EEOC-enforced
                                         statutes) (EEOC, n.d.,

6.0         6.3         Reasonable       "EEOC's determination of
                        Cause            reasonable cause to believe
                                         that discrimination occurred
                                         based upon evidence obtained
                                         in investigation. Reasonable
                                         cause determinations are
                                         generally followed by efforts
                                         to conciliate the
                                         discriminatory issues which
                                         gave rise to the initial
                                         charge. NOTE: Some reasonable
                                         cause findings are resolved
                                         through negotiated
                                         settlements, withdrawals with
                                         benefits, and other types of
                                         resolutions, which are not
                                         characterized as either
                                         successful or unsuccessful
                                         conciliations"(EEOC, n.d.,

Figure 1

Charges Resolved by EEOC in 2008.

Race             28,321
Sex              24,108
Age              21,415
Disabilities     16,705
Origin            8,498
Religion          2,700

Note: Because individuals often file charges claiming multiple
types of discrimination, the total number of charges for 2008
will be less than the total of the six types of discrimination

Note: Table made from bar graph.
Gale Copyright: Copyright 2011 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.