Sep 14, 2016

Social Security Employee Refuses To "Certify Sin"

     From the Washington Post:
A short video about lesbian, gay, transgender and bisexual diversity may bring an abrupt end to a federal employee’s 14-year career with the Social Security Administration. David Hall, who works in information technology at the agency’s office in Champaign, Ill., refused to watch the 17-minute video on several occasions.  
Hall told the News-Gazette that the mandate to watch the video first came in April, when the national office sent out an email memo regarding LGBT diversity and inclusivity training. ...
For Hall, that premise was too sinful. The 42-year-old, who identifies as Christian, said he does not believe God would have wanted him to watch the video. Signing a statement he had watched such a video, moreover, was equal to endorsing “an abomination,” he told WCIA. “I’m not going to certify sin.” ... 
On two occasions in June, Hall’s boss told him to watch the video. When Hall declined, he was reprimanded. He later received a two-day suspension, in August, without pay. ... 
Hall is willing to lose his job — he admits it is likely, in fact — and he sees his stance as a call to other Christians. ...

21 comments:

Anonymous said...

Good riddance! If you cannot or will not perform the essential functions of your job, including training, you should look for another line of work.

Anonymous said...

The video was stupid. I wish I would have refused to watch it on the premise that those 30 minutes (including the discussion after the video) would have been better spent doing WORK.

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Anonymous said...

Bye, Felicia!

Anonymous said...

He sounds bored. There's a theory in federal HR that the clerical tasks in government become so mundane and redundant that seasoned employees get bored and act out like children. It sounds like he just wants to fight the man. In the private sector he would have been gone next day. Even if he is fired he'll be around for months with appeal rights. He gets to do this ... news stories etc. as a manager it starts to get easier to just let employees do what they want.

Anonymous said...

He sounds like someone who doesn't want to be forced to do something he doesn't agree with. Personally, I don't agree with it either, however, the government pays me to do a specific job, so I do it. If you don't want to work somewhere because you don't agree with the policies, you're free to leave. This IS America after all!

Anonymous said...

well here's another perspective. First of all I want to state that on the religious spectrum, I and this fellow are at opposite ends. Not even on the same planet.

However, that being said I have this to say: That video was stupid and did not address discrimination that the LBGT community really faces. The fact that watching the video was against his religious beliefs and he was punished for refusing to watch it by a government entity speaks to two issues

1) clearly the management official was heavy handed. This could have been handled in a much more sensitive manner.

2) It shows how the Agency is determined not to respect the religious beliefs of their employees and only knows how to use a hammer instead of a scalpel in such situations. I would advise the young man to file an EEOC complaint as I am sure that the Agency did not provide a reason why it caused a hardship for the young man not to watch the video and grant him a reasonable accommodation. Secondly, I would argue that the young man was retaliated against for expressing his religious beliefs and de facto asking for a reasonable accommodation.

Has anyone heard of separation of church and state? That is why a private employer could engage in such activity, but the Federal Government or even State Government must tread lightly.

I am pretty shocked by some of the comments above which castigate the young man for speaking up. That is a sign of piss poor management skills and it is attitudes like this that are destroying the Agency.

Anonymous said...

947 here with a PS

Watching this video is not an essential part of anyone's job.

Anonymous said...

Sounds like conflicting rights. How would the LGBT employees feel if forced to watch a video meant to increase awareness and inclusiveness of people who identify as evangelical born again Christians? Who is going to want to waste time on that? Send an email on these policies and call it a day. this is another example of bumbling management- do management positions at SSA attract and go to the lowest common denominator of potential applicants?

Anonymous said...

It is one thing to tolerate something that violates your religion, and yet another to actually have to understand and embrace it. I applaud him for speaking out and putting his faith before his job.

Anonymous said...

This guy is a boob. Nobody asked him to sin; all he had to do was watch a video about people he does not know and would have to deal with as a public servant. At SSA, you can't pick and choose who comes through the front door.

Anonymous said...

Not sure how watching a video and signing a statement that says he watched it somehow becomes "embracing" what the video shows. It just says he watched it.

Actually, this so does show just why there is a need for training because its a textbook of bias. Unless his religion says he must isolate himself from (fill in the blank) he's expected as a public employee to run into and provide service to the public and fellow employees regardless of what his religion says about them. He's obviously worked with and had social and street interactions with LGBTQ people in his time (he's in a college town)

And it's a stretch too far to say that signing that he viewed the video amounts to endorsing it. So if he was told to watch a video about racial diversity and inclusivity, he'd refuse because doing so it might be endorsing (what, racism, racial discrimination? Miscegenation?) Because all I did was substitute LGBTQ with racial to see if his position is logical. Come one, if his position was that he has religious objections to "mixing of the races" and refused to watch a racial diversity video we'd not see posts making this a religious issue. Calling this a religious hardship is pure bs. Watching a video about something you don't believe so you can better understand the public you serve isn't equivalent to endorsing it or anything. That was his conclusion, not what the form says. Although I applaud his willingness to lose his job over telling the agency what the form doesn't mean..

But more importantly, he was given a direct order that involved nothing illegal or contrary to his established job expectations. And he twice refused to do so. Insubordination isn't it?

Anonymous said...

Well said, 7:55. I agree with your points. Call me cynical, but I bet we see this guy on Fox News trying to ride the same train of that clerk in KY who refused to issue same sex marriage licenses. He probably sees this as his opportunity to cash in with the "religious liberty" folks and become a speaker and spokesman for the cause. Probably will make more money (and gain celebrity) than what he was making with SS. It's more an opportunity to get rich than following his sincere beliefs.

Anonymous said...

BRAVO, 9:47!

Fully agree with your statement, "This is a sign of pissed poor management skills, and it is attitudes like this that are destroying the Agency."

11:24 is also SPOT-ON!

I fully concur with their assertion, "This is another example of bungling management - Do management positions at SSA attract and go to the lowest common denominator of potential applicants?"

As a veteran employee of several decades with SSA/ODAR, my unequivocal answer is yes - Yes, they do. With the exception of political appointees, managers are promoted from within. What I have observed for decades is a bias toward promoting like-minded individuals who have become "favorites." By and large these like-minded favorites are seldom high producer's, nor is the quality of their work exceptional.

I have watched management bend over backwards and actually articulate openings tailored to these individuals in an effort to discourage masses from applying, thereby enabling them to more easily skirt around the civil service merit system principles, while on other occasions just overtly engage in Prohibited Personnel Practices, and then, fight like hell for their selections if any eyebrows are raised. Thus, one can easily see how and why this expounds exponentially over time, and we end up with like-minded management.

Remember, "Where all think alike, no one thinks at all."

Anonymous said...

The amount of time SSA staff wastes on mandatory training, video, meetings is growing and comes at the expense of clearing work. Most of these can be covered in an email or a very quick meeting rather than 30-60 minute VODs almost every week. Anyone who is not in tune with the politically correct nature of the (currently) Democratic run federal govt. has not been paying attention.

Anonymous said...

I saw the video and it was a waste of time. All of these inclusive videos could be done away with and just tell the employees to treat everyone with respect, no matter their race, religion, marital status, gender identity, sexual orientation, etc. I may not approve of a person's lifestyle, whatever it may be, but I am not there to do that. My job is helping them file for benefits and that's it. Wish management didn't bother us with dumb videos that are supposed to make us treat people better when it's not an issue for most folks and for those that it could be an issue, I doubt the video will fix the situation.

Anonymous said...

Isn't it amazing that Christians are supposed to be so tolerant, but no other group is held to such a standard. I bet if the guy was Muslim and refused, there would have been no problem at all. So much hypocrisy and BS...

Anonymous said...

Well I don't want to start an argument of biblical proportions pun intended but I do believe the first Christian that would be Christ taught tolerance so I would say that's not really a winning argument for you. However I agree your spot on when you say there's so much hypocrisy and BS.

Anonymous said...

Actually, you are wrong, Jesus was born a Jew and died a Jew. While teaching tolerance, he did not teach ignorance.

Anonymous said...

Pretty sure he can find another job with the KKK. He can night-stick the colored folk, gay people, whoever. Good riddance.

Anonymous said...

1:10, once again, it's amazing how the left wing liberals don't have to be politically correct, but demand the right wing conservatives to be. I guess it's because they are deplorable, right? Don't forget the KKK was started by the Democrats... And you can't say Muslim terrorist, but they throw gay people off buildings to their death... What hypocrites you are..