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Old Dec 23, 2013, 11:24 AM   #1
citizenzen
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Should your faith determine what you can sell?

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UK retailer M&S faces boycott after Muslim worker refused to sell alcohol
By Belinda Goldsmith, Reuters

LONDON - British retailer Marks and Spencer apologized on Monday to customers angered after a Muslim checkout worker refused to sell champagne for religious reasons.

Thousands of customers threatened to boycott M&S, Britain's biggest clothing retailer that also sells food, after a till worker in a London store asked a customer to wait as she would not handle champagne and called for another staff member.

Following a storm of protests on social media, M&S apologized for the "confusion," saying it was not M&S's policy to allow checkout staff to refuse to serve customers buying items like alcohol and pork which are forbidden in Islam.

A spokeswoman said the company's policy for many years had been to try to accommodate staff of all religions by finding them roles where conflicts would not arise.

"On this occasion this person's preferences were not taken into account and she ended up on the tills, which was a mistake," the spokeswoman said. "We would like to apologize for any resulting confusion and reassure our customers that this was an isolated incident."

Despite the apology, angry customers vented on M&S's Facebook page, some calling on people to boycott the retailer and questioning whether other religions would get such leeway.

"Will you allow staff with Christian belief to stop working Sundays," asked Richard Woodward.

"Do Hindu or Sikh staff complain they can't serve beef and have you given Jewish staff the right not to sell pig meat?? ....you wont get me shopping there anymore and I hope other people feel likewise," said John Mcglade.

http://worldnews.nbcnews.com/_news/2...l-alcohol?lite
I doubt there are many people who'd support putting their shopping experience to the religious whims of the person selling their goods.

However, I know there are many here who believe that businesses should be able to reflect their religious values—not providing insurance for certain medical needs, for example.

If you think a business has the right to express its religious values, would an employee likewise have that right?

If not, how do you reconcile denying religious freedom to the individual, while granting it to the business?

Where and how do we draw the line here?
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Old Dec 23, 2013, 11:28 AM   #2
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If your religious views interfere with your ability to do a job you volunteered for, you should seek employment elsewhere. This is similar to taxi drivers in Minneapolis who were refusing to carry people who were carrying alcohol, like bringing home a boxed wine bottle home from the airport after a trip.
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Old Dec 23, 2013, 11:31 AM   #3
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Originally Posted by Huntn View Post
If your religious views interfere with your ability to do a job you volunteered for, you should seek employment elsewhere.
And this makes sense to me as well.

However, what about when a businesses religious views interfere with their ability to serve their employees by denying them certain medical coverage?

In both cases—employer and employee—I prefer that they conduct business on a secular level and leave their religious faith behind.

But I'm not sure everyone will agree with that.
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Old Dec 23, 2013, 11:52 AM   #4
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Marks & Spencer has apologised after a Muslim member of staff refused to sell a customer alcohol.

The retailer said that where employees had religious beliefs that restricted what foods or drinks they could handle, it tried to place them in a "suitable role".

An M&S spokeswoman said: "We regret that in the case highlighted we were not following our own internal policy."

The issue arose after an unnamed customer at a London store told the Telegraph they were "taken aback" when an "extremely apologetic" Muslim checkout worker asked them to wait for another till to become available.

The customer told the newspaper: "I had one bottle of champagne, and the lady, who was wearing a headscarf, was very apologetic but said she could not serve me. She told me to wait until another member of staff was available. I was taken aback. I was a bit surprised. I've never come across that before."

Drinking alcohol is forbidden in Islam, and some Muslims refuse to handle it. M&S said its policy applied to staff of all religions, not just Islam.

The spokeswoman said: "Where we have an employee whose religious beliefs restrict food or drink they can handle, we work closely with our members of staff to place them in suitable role, such as in our clothing department or bakery in foods.

"As a secular business we have an inclusive policy that welcomes all religious beliefs whether across our customer or employee base. This policy has been in place for many years, and when followed correctly, we do not believe that it should compromise our ability to offer the highest level of customer service. We apologise that this policy was not followed in the case reported."

The case highlighted differences among retailers on whether religious staff should have to carry out certain jobs, the Telegraph said. Sainsbury's guidelines say there is no reason why staff who do not drink alcohol or eat pork on religious grounds cannot handle them, the newspaper reported, while Tesco said it made "no sense" for staff who refused to touch items for religious reasons to work on a till.

Muslim employees at Asda do not have to work on tills if they object to handling alcohol, while Morrisons said it would "respect and work around anyone's wishes not to handle specific products for religious or cultural reasons", the Telegraph said.

http://www.theguardian.com/business/...muslim-alcohol
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Old Dec 23, 2013, 12:04 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by citizenzen View Post
And this makes sense to me as well.

However, what about when a businesses religious views interfere with their ability to serve their employees by denying them certain medical coverage?

In both cases—employer and employee—I prefer that they conduct business on a secular level and leave their religious faith behind.

But I'm not sure everyone will agree with that.
My previous statement stands. From a secular standpoint, you should not impose your religious views on your employees (as an owner) or customers (as a service provider).
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Old Dec 23, 2013, 12:06 PM   #6
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I don't see why there is a call for a boycott here. No one was particularly unreasonable here. The checkout woman apologised at the time.

That said it could be difficult if everyone at the store wasn't happy selling alcohol or contraceptive as that would harm the buyers. And that would clearly be bad.
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Old Dec 23, 2013, 12:10 PM   #7
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I wonder if she told her manager before the incident?
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Old Dec 23, 2013, 12:11 PM   #8
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Don't take a job that you can't do.
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Old Dec 23, 2013, 12:12 PM   #9
citizenzen
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Originally Posted by Technarchy View Post
Don't take a job that you can't do.
I agree.

But what about businesses?

Would you say they have the same responsibility to their employees?
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Old Dec 23, 2013, 12:29 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by citizenzen View Post
And this makes sense to me as well.

However, what about when a businesses religious views interfere with their ability to serve their employees by denying them certain medical coverage?

In both cases—employer and employee—I prefer that they conduct business on a secular level and leave their religious faith behind.

But I'm not sure everyone will agree with that.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Huntn View Post
My previous statement stands. From a secular standpoint, you should not impose your religious views on your employees (as an owner) or customers (as a service provider).
Quote:
Originally Posted by MyMac1976 View Post
I wonder if she told her manager before the incident?
Quote:
Originally Posted by Technarchy View Post
Don't take a job that you can't do.
Quote:
Originally Posted by citizenzen View Post
I agree.

But what about businesses?

Would you say they have the same responsibility to their employees?
PLEASE READ.
Marks & Spencer has apologised after a Muslim member of staff refused to sell a customer alcohol.

The retailer said that where employees had religious beliefs that restricted what foods or drinks they could handle, it tried to place them in a "suitable role".

An M&S spokeswoman said: "We regret that in the case highlighted we were not following our own internal policy."

The issue arose after an unnamed customer at a London store told the Telegraph they were "taken aback" when an "extremely apologetic" Muslim checkout worker asked them to wait for another till to become available.

The customer told the newspaper: "I had one bottle of champagne, and the lady, who was wearing a headscarf, was very apologetic but said she could not serve me. She told me to wait until another member of staff was available. I was taken aback. I was a bit surprised. I've never come across that before."

Drinking alcohol is forbidden in Islam, and some Muslims refuse to handle it. M&S said its policy applied to staff of all religions, not just Islam.

The spokeswoman said: "Where we have an employee whose religious beliefs restrict food or drink they can handle, we work closely with our members of staff to place them in suitable role, such as in our clothing department or bakery in foods.

"As a secular business we have an inclusive policy that welcomes all religious beliefs whether across our customer or employee base. This policy has been in place for many years, and when followed correctly, we do not believe that it should compromise our ability to offer the highest level of customer service. We apologise that this policy was not followed in the case reported."

The case highlighted differences among retailers on whether religious staff should have to carry out certain jobs, the Telegraph said. Sainsbury's guidelines say there is no reason why staff who do not drink alcohol or eat pork on religious grounds cannot handle them, the newspaper reported, while Tesco said it made "no sense" for staff who refused to touch items for religious reasons to work on a till.

Muslim employees at Asda do not have to work on tills if they object to handling alcohol, while Morrisons said it would "respect and work around anyone's wishes not to handle specific products for religious or cultural reasons", the Telegraph said.

http://www.theguardian.com/business/...muslim-alcohol
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Old Dec 23, 2013, 12:33 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Happybunny View Post
PLEASE READ.
Marks & Spencer has apologised after a Muslim member of staff refused to sell a customer alcohol.

The retailer said that where employees had religious beliefs that restricted what foods or drinks they could handle, it tried to place them in a "suitable role".

An M&S spokeswoman said: "We regret that in the case highlighted we were not following our own internal policy."

The issue arose after an unnamed customer at a London store told the Telegraph they were "taken aback" when an "extremely apologetic" Muslim checkout worker asked them to wait for another till to become available.

The customer told the newspaper: "I had one bottle of champagne, and the lady, who was wearing a headscarf, was very apologetic but said she could not serve me. She told me to wait until another member of staff was available. I was taken aback. I was a bit surprised. I've never come across that before."

Drinking alcohol is forbidden in Islam, and some Muslims refuse to handle it. M&S said its policy applied to staff of all religions, not just Islam.

The spokeswoman said: "Where we have an employee whose religious beliefs restrict food or drink they can handle, we work closely with our members of staff to place them in suitable role, such as in our clothing department or bakery in foods.

"As a secular business we have an inclusive policy that welcomes all religious beliefs whether across our customer or employee base. This policy has been in place for many years, and when followed correctly, we do not believe that it should compromise our ability to offer the highest level of customer service. We apologise that this policy was not followed in the case reported."

The case highlighted differences among retailers on whether religious staff should have to carry out certain jobs, the Telegraph said. Sainsbury's guidelines say there is no reason why staff who do not drink alcohol or eat pork on religious grounds cannot handle them, the newspaper reported, while Tesco said it made "no sense" for staff who refused to touch items for religious reasons to work on a till.

Muslim employees at Asda do not have to work on tills if they object to handling alcohol, while Morrisons said it would "respect and work around anyone's wishes not to handle specific products for religious or cultural reasons", the Telegraph said.

http://www.theguardian.com/business/...muslim-alcohol
I get that she wasn't following internal policy. I just wonder if she said hey boss I can't sell booze. It gets busy and things happen and she ends up on a register vs. her normal job.
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Old Dec 23, 2013, 12:35 PM   #12
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Let's rephrase the question.....

Should your conscience determine what you can sell?
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Old Dec 23, 2013, 12:41 PM   #13
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I get that she wasn't following internal policy. I just wonder if she said hey boss I can't sell booze. It gets busy and things happen and she ends up on a register vs. her normal job.
The way many managers are today he more than likely didn't even listen. Store policy should be second nature to a manager.
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Old Dec 23, 2013, 12:44 PM   #14
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The way many managers are today he more than likely didn't even listen. Store policy should be second nature to a manager.
At first blush this seems a management failure vs an employee disregarding policy. From the sounds of it she handled it well and only slowed the patron a few minutes from their consumption of the champagne.

Last edited by MyMac1976; Dec 23, 2013 at 01:02 PM.
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Old Dec 23, 2013, 12:47 PM   #15
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My previous statement stands. From a secular standpoint, you should not impose your religious views on your employees (as an owner) or customers (as a service provider).
After reading some more replies in this thread, I'll moderate my statement in that although I believe the above is true, I also believe the employer dropped the ball on this. If you as an employee are accepted although you have an inability to handle a specific product, and that is acknowledged, then it is up to the employer to do a better job with this, like put the employee on a non-alcohol cash register.
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Old Dec 23, 2013, 12:47 PM   #16
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At first blush this seems a management failure vs and employee disregarding policy. From the sounds of it she handled it well and only slowed the patron a few minutes from their consumption of the champagne.
Thank you, could not have said it any better.

The story was made more terrible by the newspaper "Daily Mail" a paper with racist undertones.
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Old Dec 23, 2013, 12:52 PM   #17
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At first blush this seems a management failure vs and employee disregarding policy. From the sounds of it she handled it well and only slowed the patron a few minutes from their consumption of the champagne.
Seeing how the employer willingly makes concessions to the religious peculiarities of their employees, then it looks like you're right.

I'm surprised the store goes to those lengths to accommodate their employees, but I'm probably a bit brainwashed by my American values.

I actually appreciate the store's policy.
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Old Dec 23, 2013, 12:55 PM   #18
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I don't see what the big deal is here, especially given the company's policy.
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Old Dec 23, 2013, 12:59 PM   #19
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There appears to be some confusion about this that M&S couldn't possibly have set up blanket rules for. From the BBC today:

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Originally Posted by BBC News
But Khola Hasan, an Islamic law consultant, told Radio 4's Today programme she thought the M&S employee's refusal to serve the customer was "ridiculous".
I suspect the server didn't disclose that they had an objection to handling alcohol in goods and that's what's caused the confusion.
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Old Dec 23, 2013, 12:59 PM   #20
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Originally Posted by Happybunny View Post

The story was made more terrible by the newspaper "Daily Mail" a paper with racist undertones.
I couldn't agree more: If it had been me and the checkout operator had said "Sorry, I can't process this sale because of my religious beliefs", I'd have said "No problem" and found another checkout.

I really don't understand why the person in this case found it necessary to go to the papers and stir up all kinds of bad feeling over this.

I'm an atheist but I fully respect people's rights to have their own beliefs and to follow their own conscience. There's far too much intolerance on all sides in the world at the moment
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Old Dec 23, 2013, 12:59 PM   #21
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Wait... this is news that somebody had to wait a little longer for their bottle of champagne? And they went to the papers because of it?
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Old Dec 23, 2013, 01:04 PM   #22
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Wait... this is news that somebody had to wait a little longer for their bottle of champagne? And they went to the papers because of it?
I would think its in the news because it was a lady wearing a hijab not selling alcohol. If it had been a male Christian doctor declining to refer someone for an abortion no one would have battered an eyelid. Instead it's "the Muslims are imposing what we can do in our country oh no".
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Old Dec 23, 2013, 01:30 PM   #23
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How hard is it for the checkout lady to put a temporary sign on the counter stating "No alcohol or pork"? Why wait until someone get up to the counter? Basic common sense. It's the same as putting a sign stating "cash only".
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Old Dec 23, 2013, 01:37 PM   #24
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I couldn't agree more: If it had been me and the checkout operator had said "Sorry, I can't process this sale because of my religious beliefs", I'd have said "No problem" and found another checkout.
It depends.

Did you just walk right up to the checker without waiting and have her say that?

Or did you stand in line and wait, only to have to get in the end of another line to wait some more?

If it's the latter, I probably wouldn't respond with a genial, "No problem."
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Old Dec 23, 2013, 01:43 PM   #25
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Originally Posted by Huntn View Post
My previous statement stands. From a secular standpoint, you should not impose your religious views on your employees (as an owner) or customers (as a service provider).
But if an employee is religious do you think it is ok for the owner to enforce a lack of religious beliefs on them?

Quote:
Originally Posted by MyMac1976 View Post
I wonder if she told her manager before the incident?
It appears that she did, and just on this particular day the store didn't follow their policy of giving her a job that didn't cause a problem with her beliefs.

Quote:
A spokeswoman said the company's policy for many years had been to try to accommodate staff of all religions by finding them roles where conflicts would not arise.

"On this occasion this person's preferences were not taken into account and she ended up on the tills, which was a mistake," the spokeswoman said.
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