Most companies have a mission statement, nothing unusual about this one, as per Voss Lighting's website:
Business MissionBut in the next paragraph, there's this:
Our business mission is to provide premier lighting products (light bulbs, ballasts and industrial/commercial fixtures) with courteous, dependable and knowledgeable service for the benefit of both our valued customers and our various vendors.
Biblical MissionThere's more scripture quoted, none that appears to have anything to do with lighting, but what do I know? And what's with the quotation marks for 'sell' and 'tell'? Aren't they really "selling" lighting products after all?
Our biblical mission is to "sell" our lighting products so that we may "tell" everyone we can about God’s soul-saving, life-transforming gospel message as Jesus instructed believers to do.
We Sell... to Tell
"Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation!" (Mark 16:15)
"For God so loved the world, that He gave his only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him, should not perish, but have eternal life." (John 3:16)
The Message Of Our Lips
"... all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." (Romans 3:23)
"... the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord." (Romans 6:23)
What company, whose product has no (apparent) connection with Christianity, or any other religion has a 'Biblical Mission'? I guess their aim to show people 'the light' is not just literal.
Which is all fine and good, if you're a customer and don't mind being proselityzed to while you're choosing your low pressure sodium or metal halide lamps, have at it.
Perfectly legal, says Patrick Holman, an attorney with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.But denying someone a job because they're not Christian enough?
"The Commission has no problem with a corporation having religious values," he says.Edward Wolfe says he saw the position advertised on a church website. His first interview went well, but in the second one he was asked questions about his religiouis beliefs and practices. He was asked to identify every church he had attended over the last few years, when and where he had been 'saved', and the circumstances that led up to it. Because, as everyone knows, that's how you improve your lighting fixtures sales quotas.
But Holman does have a problem with a corporation using religious values to make hiring decisions.
Holman and the EEOC are representing an Oklahoma man, Edward Wolfe, who says he was denied a job at Voss because he wasn't Christian enough.
"It's unique," Holman says. "I haven't seen anything like it since I've been here."
He was also asked whether he'd have a problem coming to work early (without pay) to attend Bible study. But, the managers were willing to (so thoughtfully) give him a break on his choice of church:
The lawsuit recounts an alleged conversation in which one of the managers purportedly told Wolfe that the majority of Voss' employees were Southern Baptist, "but that it wasn't required that you go to a Southern Baptist Church. As long as you were a 'born-again' Christian, it didn't matter what church you attended."Of course he'd go to some church, right?
In their response Voss Lighting says the person they hired had more lighting related experience:
The EEOC claims that the same manager expressed "overt agitation and disapproval" to Wolfe's responses to the religious line of questioning and that Wolfe was ultimately denied employment on the basis of his religious beliefs.No doubt he was more qualified. To try and convert customers to their version of religion, I'd venture to say. How can they think they can get away with asking these kinds of intrusive questions in job interviews, so blatantly not even trying to hide it. Don't these people have lawyers? The hubris is breathtaking. I'm hoping for a severe smackdown back to earth.
Steve Sanderson, vice president and general manager for the Lincoln, Neb.-based company, sent the Tulsa World a written response to the lawsuit on Wednesday, saying: "Voss denies that the charging party was not hired as a consequence of his religious beliefs. The individual hired by Voss had more lighting product experience and was more qualified than the charging party. Voss looks forward to a judicial determination of the rights of the parties."
6:14 AM PT: The suit is filed under Title VII, part of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which makes it illegal to discriminate in hiring on the basis of religion.
6:15 AM PT: The EEOC is seeking damages in the lawsuit and a court order prohibiting Voss from discriminating against job applicants on the basis of religious beliefs.