Company policy on head coverings, gah! - Mothering Forums
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#1 of 26 Old 11-16-2007, 06:50 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I work at Wal-Mart. Yes, they are evil, but it's money we need.

I currently wear a headcovering for spiritual reasons most of the time--except at work. Wal-Mart's dress code policy says that one must have a letter from one's clergy person outlining the doctrinal reason one must wear a head covering in order to wear religious head covering of any sort, and of course non-religious head covering is not allowed.

I'm a Heathen, I practice Asatru, more or less. My reasons for covering stem from personal gnosis and my understanding of the ancient/early medieval Norse culture from which my religion stems. It is NOT a doctrine-based religion in the sense that we have a holy book and one or more organized bodies of believers who interpret said book in such-and-such a way, and there are very few ordinated gothar (clergy), none of whom I actually know. It is a culturally-based reconstructionist religion and if you ask any two Heathens about a particular aspect of the religion, you're likely to get three answers. It's based on mythology, historical works, and gleanings from archaeology together with modern interpretations.

What's more, I am not a member of a Kindred (small local group), or one of the national umbrella-groups for Heathens, we practice within our family.

I am thinking of swearing a formal oath concerning my head covering at Yule. The importance of oath-taking is one of those things that does share a general consensus among Heathens, so I would then have as close to a "doctrinal" backup to give my employer as I'm likely to get, BUT I'll have to draft the letter and do the explaining myself, because again I don't know any clergy (unless DH, who has one of those "universal anybody can get it no beliefs required" ordinations that is supposed to let him legally perform marriages, etc.).

So, anyone have any suggestions for making my letter nice and professional and convincing?

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#2 of 26 Old 11-17-2007, 02:01 PM
 
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How absolutely annoying. I don't have any ideas for the letter but I think that policy really sucks. A note from a clergy person- bah.
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#3 of 26 Old 11-17-2007, 05:13 PM
 
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Contact your local EEOC office and your state Civil Rights dept and ask if this is a lawful requirement.
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#4 of 26 Old 11-17-2007, 08:39 PM
 
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Sorry, but that is illegal...it's the same as saying, "well, what are you?" They legally are not permitted to ask what religion you practice AND it is illegal for them to state you aren't permitted to wear whatever religious paraphanelia you believe you should wear...as long as it reasonably doesn't interfere with the type of work (ie., in a factory skirts are not permitted, so skirt wearing women have to wear pants...due to safety, liability, etc). A headcovering does not interfere with customer service of that kind as long as the face is not covered.

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#5 of 26 Old 11-18-2007, 01:08 AM
 
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Any UU churches near you? If you explain all that to a UU minister, he/she just might be willing to write you that letter. No guarantees, but maybe.

"What will you do once you know?"
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#6 of 26 Old 11-18-2007, 06:54 AM
 
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So sorry they are doing this to you! How frustrating and very of them.

I agree that maybe a UU church could be helpful. Good luck!

"The true measure of a man is how he treats a man who can do him absolutely no good."
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#7 of 26 Old 11-18-2007, 07:46 AM
 
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Can you look on craigslist for a notery? Maybe if you had an official notery public sign and stamp a text of the formal oath they would take it? Couldn't hurt to ask.

Good luck

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#8 of 26 Old 11-18-2007, 01:37 PM
 
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How aggravating! Is Wal Mart familiar with the first amendment? Ya think?

Trying to turn hearts and minds toward universal healthcare, one post at a time.
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#9 of 26 Old 11-18-2007, 01:57 PM
 
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In the interim of finding assistance, does it have to be a full covering? At work (which my doctor ribs me all day), I have no problems w/a Mennonite type bun cover or mini covering. These really do not cover a huge amount, and are pretty, and you could argue sanitary, maybe?

I know it is not the same, but you would know that you are covering until you can argue w/Walmart here...

http://www.plainlydressed.bravepages...eringfile.html

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#10 of 26 Old 11-18-2007, 04:43 PM
 
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My first reaction was that a UU minister might help you as previous posters have said.

However, what I would actually suggest is just wear your head-covering and if someone gives you a hard time tell them you have a right to practice your religion and you don't need to bring in any documentation whatsoever. I have no idea if this is legally true or not, but I think if you suggest that if you get fired for practicing your religion you might sue (even if you probably won't) they are most likely going to just let it go as not worth the hassle.

Another possibility is contact a national representative of your religion - do they have a website and could you email? Maybe they could send you a letter that Wal-Mart would accept even if the practices of your religion are varied and open to interpretation, and even though you are not a member of a kindred.

Good luck.

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#11 of 26 Old 11-19-2007, 02:39 PM
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I agree with the PP who states that you should talk to EEOC and talk about civil rights in regards to this.

Also, if you find that you are required to write a letter, write one yourself, explaining as you did above, that your religion has no specific doctrine, and no specific clergy, but that these are the religious/doctrinal elements to which you ascribe your choice (not describing the reasons, but the oath-taking, etc), and that you are wearing the headcovering for religious reason.

may i ask, off topic, what "style" of head covering you wear? i'm just curious.
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#12 of 26 Old 11-19-2007, 10:33 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Usually I wear either a triangular scarf or a square scarf folded into a triangle, and just tied behind my head, or sometimes with the ends twisted up over the top of my head to form a "crown" on it, and the tail hanging or tucked. Sometimes I tie or pin it under my chin, but not usually.

I'm thinking of investing in a snood or two and/or making a couple of Jorvik caps, one of the few styles there is reasonable documentation for in the Heathen period.

breastfeeding, babywearing, homeschooling Heathen parent to my little Wanderer, 7 1/2 , and baby Elf-stone, 3/11!

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#13 of 26 Old 11-20-2007, 01:32 PM
 
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can't you go online and fill something out to become a clergy on your own or something? i seem to remember you can do that. if so i would and write myself a note.

ETA- i worked at Wal Mart for 2 years, mama.

Maggie, blissfully married mama of 5 little ladies on my own little path. homeschool.gif gd.gifRainbow.gif
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#14 of 26 Old 11-20-2007, 02:33 PM
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ravin: very cool.
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#15 of 26 Old 11-20-2007, 05:23 PM
 
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How could that possibly be legal>

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#16 of 26 Old 11-21-2007, 06:22 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I really don't know how it's legal. I don't remember the exact wording of the policy, but the requirement is that you bring in documentation of the doctrinal basis for your need to wear the cover, from a member of your clergy. I'm going to write a polite letter stating something like this:

To Whom it May Concern:

I will be making a formal religious oath on the 20th of December which involves the wearing of a head covering. I am a Heathen, a practitioner of Northern European reconstructionist religion, sometimes called Asatru or Forn Sed. My faith is non-doctrinal, but is rather based on the reconstruction of pre-Christian religion drawing from historical documentation, mythology, folklore, archaeology, and modern spiritual interpretation and communication. Oath-keeping is an important aspect of Heathen ethics. My basis for covering is a personal conviction bound by sacred oath and grounded in historical documentation of the custom for married women of the Norse Heathen period to wear a head covering.

Many Heathens practice their faith outside of the context of organized groups. I am not at this time a member of any organized group which ordinates clergy. As I direct religious practice and education for my family, I am effectively my family's gythia (clergywoman). As such I am signing this letter myself.

The head covering I will wear will in no way detract from the neat appearance of the Wal-Mart dress code, create a physical hazard, or interfere with my job by causing offense or distraction that would detract from customer service.


Thank you for your accomodation,

(Ravin's real name)

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#17 of 26 Old 11-21-2007, 11:03 AM
 
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Excellent letter.

I would throw in the legality of their questioning of your religious practices, as it is illegal in the first place to ask what religion a person is, which is basically what they are doing when they demand to know your doctrinal reasoning on this issue. And that if they have further questions, you would like for them to formally write your attorney (usually makes them shut up real quick).

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#18 of 26 Old 11-21-2007, 12:58 PM
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it is a very clear, well written letter.
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#19 of 26 Old 11-21-2007, 02:09 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mommaduck View Post
Excellent letter.

I would throw in the legality of their questioning of your religious practices, as it is illegal in the first place to ask what religion a person is, which is basically what they are doing when they demand to know your doctrinal reasoning on this issue. And that if they have further questions, you would like for them to formally write your attorney (usually makes them shut up real quick).
That is what I would have done too. I wouldn't even have bothered going into detail about the religion, it isn't their business. It is a very well written letter, but it makes me angry they are making you even do this. Either way, let us know what they say. I am curious.
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#20 of 26 Old 11-22-2007, 11:33 PM
 
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The letter is great, imo. If you feel like providing some extra documentation about your religion, it might make the person who has to approve this a little more motivation to do so.

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#21 of 26 Old 11-26-2007, 07:44 AM
 
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Your letter is very well written, but in all honesty, I have concerns about the possibility of you being discriminated against, in a work place that obviously has no tolerance for diverse religious beliefs. If you could find a way to make them except your covering without disclosing the details of your belief system (and I agree with others that them insisting on this seems illegal, and if it's not it should be!), I think you will be better off.

And completely OT, but I personally loved hearing about your practice and would be really interested to hear more!
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#22 of 26 Old 11-26-2007, 01:09 PM
 
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Please let us know what happens. If it doesn't work out, perhaps we could do a writing campaign on them

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#23 of 26 Old 11-30-2007, 03:15 PM
 
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I would love to hear more about your research that led to you headcover. I am a christopagan and DH is pagan and he is having a hard time with me headcovering, since it's based on a mixture of personal conviction and the Bible. If I could give him some non-Christian based information on headcovering, I think he would have an easier time with it.

Good luck with Walmart. I'm pretty sure they aren't legally allowed to ask. Just like they can't ask you if you file religious exemption to vaccines.

Momma to DS1 4/5/06 nursed with IGT to self-weaning at 27 months, DS2 1/20/09 still nursing, DS3 due late November - planning to tandem with IGT and SNS
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#24 of 26 Old 11-30-2007, 10:50 PM
 
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Don't give them all that information about your beliefs!!!!! That just opens up the possibility of a dialogue you don't want to have about their validity, etc., particularly whether you really had to take the oath (because most religious exemptions to dress codes and such are premised on the cultural assumption of religious rules that leave you no choice before God - not religiously-sanctioned personal choices).

Just take the oath and then have your husband (or somebody from a Heathen organization) sign it as clergy. "I am my family's own clergy" just opens up a can of worms...whereas "I belong to this religion, of which my spouse happens to be a clergy" is much harder to dispute. To be clear, that's not a man-woman thing, it's a "how much of a religion can this really be if she can't find a person other than herself to sign the letter?" thing.

Like this:

Dear Wally World:
Ravin, a member of the Asatru faith, is bound by our beliefs to wear this headcovering.* The covering is a symbol of devotion to the goddess Frigga.
Cordially, Gothi Mr. Ravin

*(This is true if you take the oath - because your faith believes the oath is binding - therefore your faith binds you to keep this oath. And you avoid getting into it with them about whether a personal oath meets their GROSSLY ILLEGAL requirement to explain the doctrinal basis.)
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#25 of 26 Old 12-01-2007, 12:40 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I drafted a much shorter letter that didn't even specify my religion, and personnel was like, "Okay, fine."

The dif btwn my redneck hometown and a diverse city location, perhaps? Or the magic of DH signing "Rev."

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#26 of 26 Old 12-03-2007, 06:48 PM
 
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I'm glad it worked out for you. I doubt their policy is even legal the way it's phrased- I think they're just trying to cut out people wearing funky hats and scarves on "bad hair days".

Ruth, single mommy to Leah, 19, Hannah, 18, and Jack, 12
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