I've worked at my current job for just over 5 years now.  I've enjoyed my job, and been promoted a couple of times within the company.  About a year ago, my company hired a brand new CEO.  The company has since begun to grow quite a bit, and post much higher profits than in a few past years.  This new guy is really kicking our company into high gear.  This is admirable, and I was very excited to work under this man.  He's very involved in the day to day duties of our company, which I feel is great considering his position within the company.  However, in recent months, things have changed slightly.  He sends weekly emails to the entire company (our company employees thousands of people internationally), and within his emails, he attaches Bible scripture, passages, and personal religious beliefs.  These passages are becoming more and more frequent with each email, his most recent email actually highlighting a Bible passage so everyone takes notice of it.  It's well known with many of my fellow workers that I am not a religious person, so they know that I get down right livid when I read his emails.  I can no longer take his emails seriously, and I no longer even read them in their entirety.  I scan through, basically looking for the Bible passages that I know will be there, and I move on about my workday.  Frankly, I'm tired of receiving these emails from him, and many others within my company are as well.  Even our Human Resources manager, who deals with harassment in the workplace, has even said it is very unprofessional on his part.  In my opinion, I feel it's discriminatory and offensive.  There are probably hundreds of different religions within our workplace, with 4 out of the 5 people in my department being atheist or a non believer.  I'm looking for a little guidance on the issue, or if there is any sort of legal action that I might be able to take to stop these emails.  No one, including me, which is sad, I know, wants to say anything to this man because, well, he's the CEO of the company.  Very tricky to approach.  Any advice, folks?  I'm at a loss and can't really seem to find much on the issue as far as legal action is concerned.  My workplace even made a memorial for Veterans' Day, posting up a table with certain items on it in the middle of our work area, one of those items being a Holy Bible.  I complained about this, but all they did was attach a little note saying that "the bible is not meant to be here to discriminate against other religions...." and so on and so on.  Not sure what to do.

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Don't you have a Vice CEO or someone next to him? Or a board? There have to be other high ranking employees next to him. One of them may be more open to say something. Even just a friendly suggestion might help. You don't have to start out with threats.

I have no intention of making any sort of threat.  This was something that kind of started out as a small annoyance at work.  Work is annoying.  I expect those things.  But now it's becoming prominent in his emails.  I've spoken to the Human Resources manager, and she's clueless how to proceed because he's the CEO. 

I was referring to you wondering if there were legal means available to you. That may be considered a threat by some

I understand.  I've basically outlined steps in my head that I want to take so that I don't have to keep getting these sorts of things in business emails.  I just want to know what steps I can take past what I already know.  If I file a complaint with Human Resources, and our manager basically says she's not sure what can be done, then I have to have some sort of plan beyond that.  That's where I'm at a loss.  I want to have a plan of action before I go saying something.  If I have no legs to stand on, then I don't want to waste my time making a complaint about it.  If I do, then I'd like to know what those steps are.  I'm not trying to make a threat.  Just looking for a bit of help and advice in this area.  I'm not familiar with laws within the workplace.  I've looked up some, but there aren't any that I can find.  They may not exist.  He may very well have every right to do this.  I just want to know.  There's nothing worse than making a formal complaint about something and being entirely wrong about it in a legal sense.  I don't want to go into it ignorant.

The emails are meant to be a developmental tool to our team, so I feel that he may have important advice or tips in them, but I can't get past all of the religious jargon to take the business meaning from them.  If I have myself removed from the distribution list for these emails, then I can miss something that could help me at work.  I feel that if the emails are meant for everyone, he should take the feelings, beliefs, and ideas of others into consideration before putting all of his out there for everyone to see. 

I could be wrong, but I don't think there's any legal action you can take.  The guy isn't discriminating (favoring or disfavoring people based on religion); he's just being unprofessional by pushing spamming non-business related material in the workplace, which isn't illegal.  So what you will need to use here is your company's business policies, not law.  They may or may not work in your favor.

So that means, at least as a first step, I think the best course of action is to make a formal complaint to HR (if you haven't already).  In addition to saying it makes you uncomfortable, I would also make a business case; For example, highlight the fact that there's so much unnecessary content that it takes you longer to extract the main point of the email, thus reducing your efficiency.  This multiplied by a few thousand other employees could potentially be retarding the momentum of all employees - even ones who might enjoy the scripture.  Something like that, just to make them think about it from a $$$ perspective if they don't from any other.  There should be anonymous avenues for reporting stuff to your HR department.  Also encourage any coworkers who share your concerns to do the same.  

If your HR manager is ineffective, that's concerning.  Not even the CEO is above HR.  I'm sure if he was sexually harassing people, she'd know what to do.

Just saw that you have gone to HR - ignore the second paragraph if you want.  Except the part about getting other like-minded people to make complaints as well.  Strength in numbers and all that.

Thanks, erik.  I haven't made a formal complaint to the HR department, but the HR manager was around while I was discussing it, and she voiced her confusion on the issue, as well as her agreement that it's very unprofessional on his part.  It most certainly does affect my productivity at work, seeing as how it changes my mood entirely almost instantly, not to mention I end up just focusing on that for the day.  Good idea on the money aspect of the complaint, though.  I was on the fence about whether or not there would be legal action that could be taken if necessary, but I was leaning more towards the "no" in that area.  I'm contemplating my action, but I have a feeling that I'll end up going to the HR department and making a formal complaint. He sends these emails weekly, so I know that next Friday there will be another email, with more scripture.  It's gotten to where I joke that I could make a drinking game out of his emails.  "Every time you see a biblical passage or Christian inuendo, take a shot!"

Upon further contemplation, I have been wondering if this could at all be considered something like "religious harassment" as opposed to discrimination.  If it makes you so uncomfortable that it changes your mood for the rest of the day, then there may be a case for that.

I'm not sure if "religious harassment" is a recognized phenomena or not.  Just throwin it out there.

I do feel that it's discriminatory, and considering it's changing my mood, it is creating a hostile work environment for me......I do think there's something there.  I'll discuss with HR.  Good point.

It's gotten to where I joke that I could make a drinking game out of his emails.  "Every time you see a biblical passage or Christian inuendo, take a shot!"

That may not be a good idea, unless you plan on being hammered at work. I imagine HR would know some things to do about that.

Mark has had a fifth of tequila, and it isn't even noon yet. Where's his file?

If I were you, I would compartmentalize how you deal with his e-mails.  Realize that his personality (the choice to share his faith) may be offensive but his business accumen (and the weekly pointers) is to be respected.  You don't have to respect him, just his business prowess.  You can learn from him and still write him off.  Take what you can that is valuable from those emails and ignore the rest of his advice because there is one other thing you must respect:  his power over you.  That is, unless you have at least six months worth of savings to tide you over for your job search.  Word of your complaint will reach him and he may reveal another of his character flaws through a big, fat pink slip.  Weigh your choices carefully.  Are his e-mails really worth possibly endangering your livelihood?     


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