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Humanists Praise NJ Religious Harassment Decision

August 1, 2008

For Immediate Release - Contact Fred Edwords at (202) 238-9088
fedwords@americanhumanist.org - www.americanhumanist.org

(Washington, D.C., August 1, 2008) Today the American Humanist Association expressed its support for the Thursday, July 31, decision of the New Jersey Supreme Court in Jason Cutler v. Theodore Dorn. The justices ruled 5-0 in favor of Cutler that jokes and comments about a person's religion, when they create a "humiliating and painful environment," can constitute a form of on-the-job discrimination. Moreover, those claiming religion-based harassment don't face a higher legal threshold than those claiming racial or sexual harassment. 

"This is a welcome decision for atheists, agnostics and humanists," stated Mel Lipman, a civil liberties attorney and president of the American Humanist Association. "People are sometimes discriminated against or harassed in the workplace because they aren't religious or don't believe in a god. Now their concerns can begin to receive recognition and legitimacy in the category of religion-based harassment." 

Fred Edwords, director of communications for the American Humanist Association, added: "Humanists and other nontheists have suffered workplace criticism, harassment or a hostile work environment simply because they don't think or believe like most others. In response, they have often found it necessary to keep quiet and not complain. A number of such individuals have told me their stories over the years. Now we can begin to promote workplace sensitivity toward those of all beliefs and no belief." 

The New Jersey case involved anti-Semitic remarks made to a Jewish police officer in Haddonfield, Camden County. 

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The American Humanist Association (www.americanhumanist.org) advocates for the rights and viewpoints of humanists. Founded in 1941 and headquartered in Washington, D.C., its work is extended through more than 100 local chapters and affiliates across America.

Humanism is a progressive philosophy of life that, without theism, affirms our responsibility to lead ethical lives of value to self and humanity.

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