Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Protecting Your Witchy Rights

I may have mentioned before that I have only recently taken up my first job since 1995. I'm actually coming up to a year, but it's still so shocking to me that I work in a cubicle 15 hours a week that I think this must have just happened yesterday. So apparently in many work environments they subject employees to a three hour class on harassment and discrimination.

The idea of it made me just so frustrated - I mean, why can't people be kind, compassionate and responsible without having being taught, as adults, how to act in a social environment? But alas, as my agent says, I live in a faery world. Frankly I like it here in my little bubble of funky school for my kids, funky health food stores, funky indy bookshops, funky vintage clothing stores. I'm all about the funk.

So I decided if I was going to attend this workshop I would make it truly applicable to my life. When we went around and introduced ourselves, our position and what we hoped to gain from the class, I said, my name is Jamie. I'm the public relations writer and I'm here because I'm Wiccan and I want to know how well we're protected under the law.

You're what?

A witch.


This is what I discovered:

Wicca is recognized by the government law as a religion and so falls in a legally protected category (with things such as race, gender, color, disability, age, sexual orientation).

Definition of harassment means verbal or physical conduct that is unwanted, unwelcome, undesirable or offensive. The conduct must be severe or pervasive (repeated) enough to create a hostile environment, from the perspective of a reasonable woman. (The law figures women understand harassment best).

Such discrimination could include being excluded or ostracized, which is what I’ve heard from most of my friends is the main reason they don’t come out of the broom closet at work. Discrimination could include spreading rumors, impending or blocking movement, unwanted jokes about witches flying to work on a broom or Eye of Newt potions or any of the degrading and relentless unkind comments that ignorant people utter about our funky witchy life. (It is equivalent to sexist or racist jokes). Is one objectionable comment or action enough? No. You must give the offending person notice. A warning could be verbal or nonverbal, such as changing the subject or walking away in apparent discomfort. You could remind them that Wicca is protected under the law and you find such comments offensive. In fact, even if you weren’t Wiccan, it would be your responsibility to say something. Is two warnings enough? Maybe. At this point it would behoove you to report the unwelcome behavior to your boss, who by law must protect your religious freedom or risk consequences for him or herself, in addition to the company. By the third incident of harassment or discrimination, you've got yourself a case strong enough to stop the unwanted actions for good.

The goal is to create more peaceful not hostile environments. I am not suggesting that we go about suing our bosses or our companies. I am a firm believer of the law of attraction (what you focus on grows - so believe me I'll eventually get off this rant) and personal responsibility (I get that from being double Capricorn - ain't like a double cappuccino, which only makes you hyper). I don’t want to fight for my rights. I just want a clear, safe road where I can be true to the purest expression of me. No need to struggle when life can just flow to you. So for those who are ready, I just wanted to let you know, it’s safe to wear the pentacle to work. It’s safe (albeit a tiny scary) to educate rather than hide. Believe me, “they” are starving for our wisdom. We’ve got protection now that we didn’t have before. It’s a little like a buxom secretary in the 50’s thinking, really, it’s okay to say I don’t like that? Really? It’s okay. Really and truly, Betty Ann, really and truly.

And yes, on that personal note, the instructor of the class is looking into the books for me regarding the incident with the school. In the meantime, I visualize educational institutions that seek to open their doors to the unknown for the gems waiting to come to the light. And I visualize myself as that light bringer, the way shower, so that I may spread this joy of creating, always creating, with everyone.

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