Can my employer force me to go to an event at a church?

My employer has yearly functions at a local church that are mandatory to attend, I would still get my hourly wage while attending and it’s after normal working hours. I didn’t go last year due to the location and I was written up for it as it was mandatory. I explained to them that I wasn’t comfortable being in a Christian church as it conflicts with my own religion, regardless of if we were there to worship. They’re holding the event again this year at the same location. Is this something that they can legally terminate me for?

Asked on July 16, 2018 under Employment Labor Law, Maine

Answers:

M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 2 years ago | Contributor

It depends on what you will be doing at the church. If the reason you are being asked to attend the church is merely for a non-religious event that just happens to be held at the church, then you can be compelled to to go there on the exact same basis that you would be required to go anyplace else that your employer can require your presence. However, if you are being required to attend and/or participate in a religious service of any sort, then they cannot force you to attend. This is true even if it is after working hours so long as to are being paid for your time.

M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 2 years ago | Contributor

It depends on what you will be doing at the church. If the reason you are being asked to attend the church is merely for a non-religious event that just happens to be held at the church, then you can be compelled to to go there on the exact same basis that you would be required to go anyplace else that your employer can require your presence. However, if you are being required to attend and/or participate in a religious service of any sort, then they cannot force you to attend. This is true even if it is after working hours so long as to are being paid for your time.


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