Is it legal for an employer to ask an employee to read a book that strongly promotes Christian ideas and references how to become more like God wants you to be?

Also, in a performance review, when my wife expressed that she did not understand why a co-worker is advancing quicker than she is, her employer told her that the co-worker “has 3 children” and therefore “has more life experiences” than her. To me, this train of thought is unethical since it has nothing to do with job performance directl, but I’m wondering if there’s anything illegal about it?

Asked on August 23, 2015 under Employment Labor Law, Wisconsin

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

1 No, it's not legal to require an employee to read a Christian--or Jewish, or Muslim, or Buddhist, etc. book--because the law prevents harassment or discrimination on the basis of religion.
2 However, in your state--and in most, but not all states--it is legal to "discriminate" against an employee due to the umber of children he/she has that is because and the reason why I put "discriminate" in quotation marks only those types of differential treatment specifically banned by law constitute illegal discrimination if the law does not make differentiating between two people on a certain basis illegal, it is therefore legal. And neither federal nor your state's law prohibits discrimination based on how many children someone has therefore, it ws legal for your employer to do this.


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