Carrying religious freedom a step too far

Supply Room Supervisor Harold Shea, a devout Catholic, was incensed by the Free Choice Movement and its stand on abortion.

02/01/1999


Supply Room Supervisor Harold Shea, a devout Catholic, was incensed by the Free Choice Movement and its stand on abortion. In protest he hung a large poster in the supply room containing a color photograph of a bloody fetus with the words MURDER ONE scrawled across it. Employee drawing tools or materials could not avoid exposure to the poster.

Several workers, including some Right-To-Lifers, as well as Free Choice advocates, considered the display offensive. When Shea was asked by a number of employees to remove the poster, he refused.

"Freedom of religion is a fundamental right in this country," he maintained.

Shea's stand became a heated and disruptive issue in the maintenance department resulting in work delays and stalled projects. A committee of employees turned to Maintenance Department Supervisor George Griffith for help.

Griffith attempted to reason with Shea who replied that he wouldn't be able to live with himself if he gave in to the "baby killers."

Griffith did his best to be fair. "It's true you're entitled to your religious convictions," he said. "But as a management employee, it's my responsibility to keep the department productive. If you insist on displaying the poster, my suggestion is that you hang it on your locker door where it won't be publicly exposed. In any case you'll have to remove it from the supply room."

Shea refused and threatened to sue on the grounds that Griffith's insistence was a violation of his religious freedom.

Question: Should Shea be permitted to display the poster in the supply room despite its offensiveness to others?

Parker's verdict: When the situation was spelled out to Plant Engineer Frank Parker, his decision was swift and uncompromising. "Religious freedom is a two-way street. Shea may be entitled to his personal beliefs, but he has no right to impose those beliefs on others. One or the other has to go: Either the poster, or Shea."





The Top Plant program honors outstanding manufacturing facilities in North America. View the 2015 Top Plant.
The Product of the Year program recognizes products newly released in the manufacturing industries.
Each year, a panel of Control Engineering and Plant Engineering editors and industry expert judges select the System Integrator of the Year Award winners in three categories.
Pipe fabrication and IIoT; 2017 Product of the Year finalists
The future of electrical safety; Four keys to RPM success; Picking the right weld fume option
A new approach to the Skills Gap; Community colleges may hold the key for manufacturing; 2017 Engineering Leaders Under 40
Control room technology innovation; Practical approaches to corrosion protection; Pipeline regulator revises quality programs
The cloud, mobility, and remote operations; SCADA and contextual mobility; Custom UPS empowering a secure pipeline
Infrastructure for natural gas expansion; Artificial lift methods; Disruptive technology and fugitive gas emissions
Power system design for high-performance buildings; mitigating arc flash hazards
VFDs improving motion control applications; Powering automation and IIoT wirelessly; Connecting the dots
Natural gas engines; New applications for fuel cells; Large engines become more efficient; Extending boiler life

Annual Salary Survey

Before the calendar turned, 2016 already had the makings of a pivotal year for manufacturing, and for the world.

There were the big events for the year, including the United States as Partner Country at Hannover Messe in April and the 2016 International Manufacturing Technology Show in Chicago in September. There's also the matter of the U.S. presidential elections in November, which promise to shape policy in manufacturing for years to come.

But the year started with global economic turmoil, as a slowdown in Chinese manufacturing triggered a worldwide stock hiccup that sent values plummeting. The continued plunge in world oil prices has resulted in a slowdown in exploration and, by extension, the manufacture of exploration equipment.

Read more: 2015 Salary Survey

Maintenance and reliability tips and best practices from the maintenance and reliability coaches at Allied Reliability Group.
The One Voice for Manufacturing blog reports on federal public policy issues impacting the manufacturing sector. One Voice is a joint effort by the National Tooling and Machining...
The Society for Maintenance and Reliability Professionals an organization devoted...
Join this ongoing discussion of machine guarding topics, including solutions assessments, regulatory compliance, gap analysis...
IMS Research, recently acquired by IHS Inc., is a leading independent supplier of market research and consultancy to the global electronics industry.
Maintenance is not optional in manufacturing. It’s a profit center, driving productivity and uptime while reducing overall repair costs.
The Lachance on CMMS blog is about current maintenance topics. Blogger Paul Lachance is president and chief technology officer for Smartware Group.
The maintenance journey has been a long, slow trek for most manufacturers and has gone from preventive maintenance to predictive maintenance.
This digital report explains how plant engineers and subject matter experts (SME) need support for time series data and its many challenges.
This digital report will explore several aspects of how IIoT will transform manufacturing in the coming years.
Maintenance Manager; California Oils Corp.
Associate, Electrical Engineering; Wood Harbinger
Control Systems Engineer; Robert Bosch Corp.
This course focuses on climate analysis, appropriateness of cooling system selection, and combining cooling systems.
This course will help identify and reveal electrical hazards and identify the solutions to implementing and maintaining a safe work environment.
This course explains how maintaining power and communication systems through emergency power-generation systems is critical.
click me