Accommodating respectful religious expression in the workplace

(b) An agency may restrict all posters, or posters of a certain size, in private work areas, or require that such posters be displayed facing the employee, and not on common walls; but the employer typically cannot single out religious or anti-religious posters for harsher or preferential treatment. Employees should be permitted to engage in religious expression with fellow employees, to the same extent that they may engage in comparable nonreligious private expression, subject to reasonable and content-neutral standards and restrictions: such expression should not be restricted so long as it does not interfere with workplace efficiency.

Though agencies are entitled to regulate such employee speech based on reasonable predictions of disruption, they should not restrict speech based on merely hypothetical concerns, having little basis in fact, that the speech will have a deleterious effect on workplace efficiency.

Examples (a) In informal settings, such as cafeterias and hallways, employees are entitled to discuss their religious views with one another, subject only to the same rules of order as apply to other employee expression.

The other employee disagrees with the first employee's religious exhortations, but does not ask that the conversation stop.(c) In a parking lot, a non-supervisory employee hands another employee a religious tract urging that she convert to another religion lest she be condemned to eternal damnation.The proselytizing employee says nothing further and does not inquire of his colleague whether she followed the pamphlet's urging. Though personal religious expression such as that described in these examples, standing alone, is protected in the same way, and to the same extent, as other constitutionally valued speech in the Federal workplace, such expression should not be permitted if it is part of a larger pattern of verbal attacks on fellow employees (or a specific employee) not sharing the faith of the speaker.Some religions encourage adherents to spread the faith at every opportunity, a duty that can encompass the adherent's workplace.As a general matter, proselytizing is as entitled to constitutional protection as any other form of speech -- as long as a reasonable observer would not interpret the expression as government endorsement of religion.

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The invitee is shocked, and asks that the invitation not be repeated.

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