Tuesday

Readers Opinion on Religion?

Received Tuesday, June 1, 2010
perspective and opinion A good friend of mine is an awesome nanny. She is very interactive with her charges, and imaginative. She has worked for her non-religious family for the past 2 years. The children are older (10 and 12), so please keep this mind. When she started, she was a non-denominational Christian, and they knew/respected this. She keeps her religious views to herself, and it has never been a problem.

About 6 months ago, she began attending a very conservative church. I will refrain from naming the denomination, but basically the doctrines consist of women not wearing pants (so dresses and skirts only, etc), no drinking, dancing, etc. Of course the drinking, dancing, etc do not really relate to her job. I am only trying to provide information.

Well, this has become a problem for the family. She is still the same great nanny, and still keeps her religious beliefs to herself. The problem is is that she only wears skirts and dresses. And because of this, she cannot go swimming. The children are excellent swimmers, and she has never gotten into the pool with them when she takes them to the local pool. They normally meet friends, and she monitors the activities from the sidelines.

However, the parents say she is no longer the nanny she was when they hired her, and are letting her go. She has accepted it, and found another family. I guess my question boils down to, in the event your nanny changes religions, would you work with it? Or let her go. It may change her diet, appearance, etc. Anyways, I would love to hear all of your thoughts on this. And again, thank you for this site and the time you put into it!

32 comments:

Phoenix said...

It is illegal to fire someone because of their religion. You can fire someone if they are not able to fullfill the job requirement based on their clothing and such. I think that as an employer they should try and work with her.

Like the good nanny I will keep my beliefs to myself. Even though it is killing me inside.

nobody's business said...

My religion or lack thereof is absolutely nobody's business but my own. And Phoenix is right: it is illegal to fire someone based on religion.

So the nanny is wearing a skirt. Big f-ing deal. If a child were drowning, she could still jump in and save him while wearing a skirt.

The family sounds like dickheads. Sounds like their kids could use a good, religious influence. Obviously they are judgmental assholes.

ATL Nanny said...

Religion is such a touchy issue. I'm a non-believer and I've worked for families of many different faiths. I believe it can work out very well as long as both sides are respectful of each other.

Legally, parents have every right (in most states anyway) to hire and fire based on religion unless they have the minimum number of employees to make them follow employment laws. Also, I know it's PC to say that a nanny should be hired without regard to religion/politics/etc, but after ten years of working as a nanny, these are always questions I ask about in the interview. Like I said, I've worked for families of many religions, but I need to know upfront what they will be telling their children about non-believers (eg will the children be worried that I going to burn in hell for eternity) and how much I am expected to participate in their religious instruction. I have no qualms with taking them to vacation bible school or shabbat services or whatever, but I refuse to tell them that I BELIEVE what they are being taught. I usually just keep my thoughts to myself unless asked directly, then I tell them that there are many different religions and belief systems in the world, and mine are a little different than theirs.

I feel the same way about politics. I've worked for families all over the political spectrum, but I won't be happy working for a homophobic, right-wing family because I'm openly gay. I tried once, early on, working for a family who was very conservative and I just didn't talk about my personal life ever, and it made me miserable. I will not call my partner my "roommate" or pretend she doesn't exist. I'm much happier working for families who accept my family.

I don't want to work for a family whose beliefs are diametrically opposed to mine, and I respect every parent's right to choose a nanny for their child who shares their beliefs if that is important to them. I never respond to an ad that states the family is looking for a christian/jewish/muslim/etc nanny. And I usually broach the subject of my sexuality and my (lack of) religious beliefs before an in-person interview because I don't want to waste anyone's time.

In a case like this -- where the nanny is unable to fulfill part of the job requirement because of her religious beliefs -- I think the parents have every right to let her go.

ItsDiscrimation said...

But if she has never gone swimming with them in the past, why should it be an issue now? And you can do pretty much anything in a skirt/dress that you can do in pants. I'd much rather a nanny who wears more conservative clothing around my kids than one who shows everything. Not saying all nannies dress immodestly. lol.

Nanny Sarah said...

I think it would be unfair to hire or fire a nanny based on what their religious beliefs were, but am not very clear on what the laws are.
Being a nanny, however is a unique profession in that a lot of it is based on chemistry between employer and employee. Honestly, I would not care what the religion was unless it somehow interfered or affected the job performance, etc. If the nanny could not wear a bathing suit and I wanted a nanny who would actually be in arm's reach of my child in a pool, then chemistry-wise we may not be a good nanny-parent fit as my needs were not being met. But if my nanny had body piercings and tattoos all over, as long as that did not interfere w/her work, I would let it go even though I do not like tattoos much. However, some religious attire might creep me out. For example, if my nanny wore a burka that Muslim women wear, the type that cover up the whole face and show only the eyes, I might be a little creeped out by it honestly. But if she was a good nanny and treated my children well, I would let it go. However, if she insisted on wearing it to the beach, that would be kinda weird for me.
Just my opinion.

Village said...

If the religion requires a skirt, I presume that precludes swimming because the dress will float over the head, which is very immodest, and the opposite of the point of wearing the skirt. I think the parents are saying if her religion trumps jumping in the water to save the kids, they need to move on. I would too. It's not about the religion. It's about the duties of the nanny. She is not willing to perform them: doesn't matter the reason. She is unqualified for the job.

HoHum said...

Since the children can apparently swim well, and there are probably lifeguards on duty, the chances of the nanny having to get in the water is slim to none.

Village said...

It's the slim that matters.

Ravenswood Nanny said...

It is illegal to fire her religion. I was raised in this sort of denomination and they take wearing skirts/dresses very seriously. I know several people who have declined jobs due to the dress code... I declined a spot on a college volleyball team because of it. (I now have different beliefs).

While it is illegal though I can understand the family's point of view - she isn't the same person they hired. If she is not swimming with the children and they want her to they can let her go based on this - her religious beliefs are only involved in that she chooses not to participate in a work requirement because of them. Totally grounds to let her go.

anonynanny said...

I am extremely liberal. As a nanny I do everything I can to keep my own opinions out of my job. However, if I found out that the parents had strong beliefs that countered my own, I would find it difficult to keep working with them. I'm happier not knowing.

If I were hiring a nanny, I know that I would do everything I could to get someone liberal and hopefully non-religious. I am not anti-religion, but I wouldn't want my child raised by someone whose views are wildly different from my own.

talesfromthe(nanny)hood said...

Unless the nanny has started prosletizing to the children or has told the parents that she would not, under any circumstances, enter a pool due to her newly chosen religious dress codes, I can't see that they would have a reason to fire her.

But they are not bound by employment laws unless they pay nanny within a corporate structure large enough to have to comply with employment laws. So, they can do what they like, as can most of our employers.

NanGal said...

it is not illegal to fire a nanny based on her religion sorry. because being a nanny has no effect on the government it has no regulations on employers. so yes you can totally fire your nanny for her religion.

i don't find anything wrong with this. would you want a nanny who converted to satanism? or wiccanism? or believed you and your children were going to hell for your beliefs?

gotta be more said...

I truly believe that there's more to this story. It's not just that the nanny now wears dresses.

She doesn't dance, so does she now not dance and goof around with the kids? That would be a change in job performance.

I'm sure there are other changes as well. If I was an employer and my nanny had a drastic change in beliefs that affected the way she acted, I'd probably fire her, too. She's no longer the nanny they hired.

Ariel-chan said...

If she can't do her duties as the family would like her to - have previous commenters never had a summer position? Because every one I've had wanted me to be a strong swimmer and swim with the kids, regardless of how good the kids were or where we swam!

Also even if the nanny DID keep her opinions to herself I personally would be VERY uncomfortable having my kids around someone adhering to a religion like this... particularly if I had girls! Kids learn a lot from the way their caregivers model living to them, even if they never outright say "women should not wear pants".

alex said...

I don't know if it is illegal or not but I find it unfair that they fired her because of her religion.

Since she never swam with the kids before, I don't know why this would be an issue with the parents. Plus, I am sure if she had to jump in to save the children she would.

I wonder if the parents are just trying to find an "out" and using this as an excuse when instead they are uncomfortable with the nanny having such strong religious views. I feel that this is unfair but if I were the nanny I would rather not work for them anyway because I wouldn't want to work for someone who didn't want me there.

CS Nanny said...

I am the OP. She is watching 2 boys, 10 and 12. They play video games, play sports, art projects, play instruments, etc. All of which she does. The only thing that has changed is her dress. And she has never once danced with them in her job.

CS Nanny said...

And I'm not sure why people are always so quick to jump to "there's always more to the story." I've seen her written reviews that she recieved every 6 months. Nothing negative. Only praise for the job that she has done.

midwestnanny said...

gosh, you'd think with two boys that the parents would be happy that the nanny is dressing modestly . . . . ! Such a silly point . . because, honestly? WOuld a 10/12 year old boy even want their nanny playing with them in the water?

noeladd said...

I think the thing people need to realize is that the nanny has never gone in the pool with her charges previously. If the parents didn't have a problem with her staying out before why is it such a big deal now?

Nanny Work said...

When people choose to use a nanny due to their schedules or circumstances they want to feel good about the person who will be spending so much time with their kids. The dream nanny is the lady whose belief system is closely matched to their own, that will entertain, stimulate learning and provide safety and care while they are away. If the nanny's beliefs are viewed as strange or out of place they (parents) will not want this person to influence their children. Can't say as I blame the parents there. This is America and thank God we have the freedom to choose our own belief systems. Due to this fact Nanny can believe what she will and worship God as she sees fit. She must realize though that she cannot impose her beliefs on the children or the family and that if there is a conflict she will lose her job. Legal or not if the parents feel that you are not right for their children, you will be dismissed. It is a good thing to discuss this with the family before accepting a position.

June said...

OP, it seems to me your friend is leaving something out. If the only change on the surface is from pants to dresses, I just can't imagine the family having this type of reaction.

With respect of course.

Momkat said...

If her job requires her to wear a bathing suit and go into the pool--and for whatever reason she can no longer do that, she would no longer be qualified for the job.

HoHum said...

June, judging by the reactions here, it would seem that that is all that is required.

June said...

HoHum,

The reactions here are in response to the firing, not the clothing change.

I'm just saying there has got to be more to it, no one drops their nanny because she starts wearing dresses.

TC said...

I think it depends on the circumstances. When I took the job I now have I had no clue if the family was religious. Working in daycares you learn to deflect the comments from kids when they ask you religious questions and I figured it would be the same with this family.

By total luck (thanks to facebook actually) I found out that not only are they the same religion as I am but that the husband and I went to the same camps, youth group retreats and so on and have the same friends even though he grew up about 4 hours from me.

I will say it makes it easier when their oldest asks me religious questions because now I can feel comfortable answering them.

Katlee85 said...

I too think it's important that the family's beliefs mesh with the Nannies. I don't know the whole story, so I won't comment on why she was fired only that it does seem odd that they'd fire her solely on her religion unless they are non religious and felt they were just too different. I personally wouldn't care what my Nanny/babysitter's religion was as long as they kept their beliefs to themselves if they didn't match my own. (I'm catholic)

Miserly Bastard said...

As an employer, I would be unwilling to hire nannies who practiced certain religions.

For instance, I would not hire an orthodox Jew or a muslim nanny to raise my daughter, because I dont think those religions treat women in a modern way, and there would be a risk that the nanny would transmit to my daughter, such ideas.

For those of you who believe it is "illegal" to fire a nanny based on religion, you are wrong. The 1st Amendment includes the "right of association", which means that I absolutely have the right to choose my intimate personal associations, and I cannot be forced by the government to associate with those I do not wish to.

Therefore, it is perfectly legal to fire a nanny because: you hate blacks, she is fat, she is a Democrat, you think all Muslims are terrorists, etc.

This is not intuitively obvious to most people, but consider this: can the KKK exclude blacks? Answer, yes. The Constitution guarantees this right. Similarly, a parent has the right to choose who raises his kids. Period. There are limits to the right of association, though, for example, if you hold yourself out in commerce to the public like a restaurant does, you cannot exclude blacks just because you dont like them. That would be illegal.

Nom de Plume said...

I agree she's not fulfilling her job description. Most nannies are required to swim with their charges. It's unfair of her to start as one thing and then change mid-stream. I also don't think you can run around and play sports in a dress/skirt very well. I can't imagine sliding into home in a dress.

ATL Nanny said...

Miserly Bastard -- that's for elaborating on the legality of hiring/firing based on "discrimination". It makes me insane when this topic comes up and everyone immediately claims that it is illegal to hire/fire one's nanny based on religion/ethnicity/race/disability/whatever.

in seattle... said...

I'm inclined to agree with Miserly. When I took my current position, this was a question that MB asked because her teenager was struggling to find and/or not find her place in religion or lack there of. She wanted to hear my views to know if it aligned with what MB believed - in general not specifics - to answer her teenager in the same way that MB would answer. I feel comfort knowing I could be myself on this subject and/or if questioning from the teenager ever came up. I would think, that if this changed, because of how important it seemingly is to MB, she would consider terminating me from my position. She is truly a very warm and caring person, but I believe she has every right to choose who cares for her children. If I could not attend to my duties under the same pretenses in which I was hired, it would make clear sense to not keep me in this same position. It is unfortunate, but I believe it is fair. These are children whose views are being shaped - whether significantly or not - by the people in charge of caring for them.

Where is my Gluestick and Glitter? said...

I think the relationship with a nanny gets to be very personal...its a very fine line with the business and personal and can be sketchy for some to maintain. The nanny comes into a families home and becomes a part of their world...there is crossover whether you want it or not...the nannies world will cross into the families as well. Her opinions and thoughts....how she is spending some of her time, her dietary changes, new workout program, a new pet, sick family member, an upcoming event...all of it will come out. How do you keep it from not coming out even in a minimal way????

Perhaps the family just became increasingly uncomfortable with the changes in her over this time period...not specifically the wearing of dresses and skirts...but the overall change her new denomination had on her...all those subtle ways that could add up? I know many people who are non-religious or minimal in religion involvement and are simply not comfortable with those who are more heavily involved in their own. Or perhaps the kids expressed an opinion on this...pre-teen boys could have all sorts of strangely influenced opinions that parents could take into account?

I am just saying it could all be a whole lot of teeny barely there things that added up to something they couldn't get past. If it was emotion based (uncomfortable stuff)...you can't reason with that...its not logical.

cali mom said...

Weighing in kind of late on this but I tend to agree with Miserly.

Let's put it this way: Would you hire, or keep, a nanny who was required to take your kids rock climbing if her personal choices required her to wear 6 inch stiletto heels at all times? Sure, she could supervise from the ground, and in case of emergency, she could probably kick off the heels and climb the rocks barefoot.

You could just say "well they're very good climbers so there should be no problems" but in that case, why even have a nanny? Why not just trust their judgement to entertain themselves and keep themselves safe and provided for all day?

Sorry but the nanny's choices, in case of a water emergency, would be to throw off the long skirt and dive in naked, or try to rescue the kids with a long wet skirt wrapped around her ankles. If she can't do the job, they can hire someone who is able to fulfill ALL the job requirements.