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EMPLOYMENT ISSUES UNIQUE TO JEHOVAH’S WITNESS EMPLOYEES

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SUMMARIES OF 1400 JEHOVAH’S WITNESSES MEDICAL COURT CASES

The following website summarizes over 900 court cases and lawsuits affecting children of Jehovah’s Witness Parents, including over 400 cases where the JW Parents refused to consent to life-saving blood transfusions for their dying children:
DIVORCE, BLOOD TRANSFUSIONS, AND OTHER LEGAL ISSUES AFFECTING CHILDREN OF JEHOVAH’S WITNESSES
http://jwdivorces.bravehost.com

The following website summarizes over 500 Jehovah’s Witnesses Employment related lawsuits, etc, including DOZENS of court cases in which JW Employees refused blood transfusions, and/or other cases involving Worker’s Comp, medical, health, and disability issues:

EMPLOYMENT ISSUES UNIQUE TO JEHOVAH’S WITNESS EMPLOYEES
http://jwemployees.bravehost.com

JW EMPLOYEES MAY NOT HONOR CONFIDENTIALITY REQUIREMENTS OF EMPLOYERS.

Any Employer who has Jehovah’s Witness Employees who are given access to company records which contain confidential personal information, be it that of customers, employees, or some other group/class, should read and re-read this webpage until “the light not only comes on”, but is burning brightly. This refers not merely to clerical positions in banks, insurance agencies/companies, attorneys offices, courthouses, medical offices, hospitals, tax firms, etc., but rather, also includes the “professionals” in the same/similar businesses, who are subject to professional codes of conduct.

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In August 1985, a “dirty little secret” which Jehovah’s Witnesses had been able to keep quiet for decades was exposed to the rest of the world by an article published in MEDICAL ECONOMICS magazine. The article was written by an obstetrician practicing in Plano, Texas. The doctor opens:

“The young woman I’ll call Toni had been a patient of mine and a family friend for several years before she began working for me. She wanted to become a childbirth educator, and we were glad to help her learn by assisting my wife … in our office Lamaze classes. Toni turned out to be an excellent Lamaze instructor, and with our sponsorship and funding, she began her own series of classes for our patients at the local hospital.”

The doctor was well pleased with Toni’s skills as a childbirth educator, and approximately a year later, he offered Toni a position in his office as receptionist and bookkeeper. He continues:

“My wife and I were aware that Toni was a Jehovah’s Witness, and we’d considered — or so we thought — the implications this might have for her work in a medical office. We’d discussed her beliefs with her, and found no conflicts with our own. Although her religion forbade the use of blood or blood products, she could accept without reservation that I was occasionally required to do so. Her beliefs also forbade abortion, but so did ours. We didn’t foresee any problems at all. I was all the more confident because I had a number of Witnesses as patients. They’re very family oriented, and consider bearing and raising children an honorable calling. They were careful about choosing an obstetrician, and didn’t hesitate to ask questions about my practice philosophy. I’d always been able to satisfy them, and we’d gone on to enjoy good doctor-patient relationships. Finally, Toni was a genuinely kind and good person.”

The doctor found Toni to be as proficient at this new job as she had been at the former. But, then …

“Everything was fine until a patient I’ll call Linda came to the office. Linda was a young woman from a small town near ours. She, too, was a Jehovah’s Witness, and she and Toni knew each other. Linda told me a distressing story. On a recent visit to Houston, she’d gone to a bar, where she was raped by several men. She’d been treated for gonorrhea by a physician in Houston, and now was coming to me for a follow-up culture. I had no way of knowing if she was telling the truth about the rape, but that was none of my business. I simply took the culture, and when I found that the gonorrhea had cleared up, I thought no more of it.

“A few weeks later, I got a call from a very angry Linda. The elders of her church had gotten the whole story of her visit to Houston. She’d been denounced from the pulpit and expelled from membership. Her friends were forbidden to associate with her or even speak to her, and her family was allowed to speak to her only when absolutely necessary. Even her mother was forbidden to sit down with her for a chat. Linda was sure that the information could only have come fom Toni. She threatened a lawsuit unless Toni was fired. I had no assurance that she wouldn’t sue even if I did fire Toni.”

The doctor was shocked. He could not believe that Toni would have done such a thing. After all, he had discussed “confidentiality” at length with Toni before hiring her. His personnel manuel even covered “confidentiality” – specifying immediate termination for any employee who would violate a patient’s privacy. However, the doctor was in for a rude awakening:

“When I confronted Toni, I was even more stunned at her open admission that she was indeed the talebearer. She explained that in her religion every member is expected to report to the church elders any other member who violates its teachings and discipline. When she reviewed Linda’s chart for charges and insurance information and read what Linda had told me, she spent some time deciding where her primary loyalty lay. In the end, she took the story to the elders.”

Toni’s ready response shocked the doctor more than if Toni had carelessly gossiped the information to church members. Instead, Toni had carefully thought the situation over before making her decision. Toni had considered both her employment relationship and her personal friendship with both the doctor and his wife, and after considering the damage that would be done to them, Linda, and herself, Toni had decided that her only loyalty was to her Jehovah’s Witness religion. For those unfamiliar with the Jehovah’s Witnesses, the doctor’s response is somewhat typical:

” … I found Linda’s story of the public denunciation almost incredible. All the Witnesses I knew seemed so kind. I couldn’t believe that their religion called for such talebearing and harsh retribution for backsliders. I telephoned a leading elder in the church, who’d been a friend [ED: sorry, merely an acquaintance] since high school. He told me it was all true. He explained that the church elders hadn’t tried to weigh the truth of Linda’s story of rape. As they saw it, she’d gone somewhere she shouldn’t have gone, done something she shouldn’t have done, and caught a disease she shouldn’t have caught. For that, she had to suffer the punishment of “disfellowship,” to be lifted only if she could satisfy the elders of her true repentance. The church had even ordered her to move out of her family home until she met the requirements for absolution.

“If I’d been angry when I called, I was furious by the time the elder finished his explanation. I asked him if he realized what his church had done to me, an innocent bystander. He said he was sorry, but, like Toni, he felt the teachings of the church had to come before all other considerations. He offered to call Linda and put pressure on her not to sue me. I told him she’d been hurt enough already, and begged him not to risk making her even more vindictive.”

When the doctor hung up, he knew that he needed to contact his attorney. His attorney counseled him that he was legally responsible for the harm Toni had caused Linda. Despite his properly training Toni on “confidentiality”, he was still ultimately responsible. At best, he could sue Toni for whatever he was forced to compensate Linda – assuming Toni had it to get. The doctor also discovered that his expensive Medical Malpractice insurance policy did not have the endorsement which would cover such a situation. Finally, the attorney recommended that the doctor fire Toni immediately. Despite what Toni had done, their long friendship made firing her extremely difficult. If only this had simply been a momentary error in judgment.

“First thing next morning, I told her what my lawyer’s advice had been, and said I had no alternative but to comply with it. I asked her, though, what she’d do if she found herself in a similar situation in the future. After a moment’s thought, she dropped her eyes and answered. ‘I suppose I’d have to do the same thing.’

“I guess that made firing her a little easier. I told her I couldn’t have anyone working for me who might violate my patients’ right to privacy. I was careful to put it just like that, and to avoid any suggestion that she was being dismissed because of her religious beliefs. I was half afraid she’d turn around and sue me for religious discrimination — and I was in enough trouble without that. But Toni accepted my decision meekly, and somehow we were able to remain friends.

“My next step was to try to cool Linda’s anger and avert the threatened lawsuit. I wanted to apologize to her anyway — I was terribly sorry that she had suffered so much because of her chance visit to my office. When I called her, I explained that I had learned as much as possible about what happened, that she was completely correct in her accusation, and that Toni was gone. I asked her to believe that I’d been completely unaware of what Toni was up to, and that I would never countenance a breach of patient confidentiality. Then I tendered my apologies and asked if there was anything else I could do to help minimize the trauma she’d been subjected to. To my overwhelming relief, she told me she relized it wasn’t my fault and wasn’t going to sue. Before we hung up, I said I’d be happy to see her again as a patient at any time, or to transfer her records to any other physician she might choose. But I never heard from her again.

“But I never heard from her again.” The sad fact is, doctor, that neither has anyone else. “Linda” most likely accepted the Jehovah’s Witnesses punishment of “disfellowshipping” and “shunning”, and when the Elders thought that she was sufficiently repentant, she was allowed to rejoin her family, friends, and the rest of the JW community. Undoubtedly, there was either a spoken or unspoken agreement that “Linda” would never speak publicly about this again, if she knew what was good for her.

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As that MEDICAL ECONOMICS magazine article was slowly circulating amongst other members of the media, newspaper articles on the topic of Jehovah’s Witnesses breaching their employer’s confidentiality began to be published in the country’s larger newspapers. At some point, the American Bar Association Journal even carried an article on the topic. (Help!)

However, the most interesting reaction was from the Jehovah’s Witnesses themselves. Exactly two years later, after the issue had died down, the September 1, 1987 issue of the WATCHTOWER magazine featured an article entitled: “‘A Time to Speak’ — When?”. Interestly, the article opened:

“Mary works as a medical assistant at a hospital. One requirement she has to abide by in her work is confidentiality. She must keep documents and information pertaining to her work from going to unauthorized persons. Law codes in her state also regulate the disclosure of confidential information on patients. One day Mary faced a dilemma. In processing medical records, she came upon information indicating that a patient, a fellow Christian [that’s strictly a fellow Jehovah’s Witness for you non-JWs], had submitted to an abortion. Did she have a Scriptural responsibility to expose this information to elders in the congregation, even though it might lead to her losing her job, to her being sued, or to her employer’s having legal problems? … Was this the time for Mary to keep quiet, or was it the time to speak about what she had learned? … But when there seems to be serious wrongdoing, should a loyal Christian out of love of God and his fellow Christian reveal what he knows so that the apparent sinner can receive help and the congregation’s purity be preserved? [key JW doctrine]”

The first subheading, “Applying Bible Principles”, opens with the points that if a Jehovah’s Witness commits “serious wrongdoing”, they should not try to conceal it. Jehovah sees everything, and hidden sins will eventually be accounted for. Then, one of the most important points in the entire article is subtly made:

“At times Jehovah brings concealed wrongdoing to the attention of a member of the congregation that this might be given proper attention.”

Allow me to paraphrase that last statement for those non-JWs who missed this most important point:

Sometimes, when a fellow Jehovah’s Witness has been fornicating with Satan, and they are hiding their evil deeds so that they can keep doing more without getting caught, Jehovah will ‘test’ one of his loyal subjects by revealing the evil JW’s sin to them, so that they can then expose the evildoer to JW leaders, who in turn will disfellowship the evildoer, and thereby keep the congregation spiritually ‘pure’.

The article next quotes Leviticus 5:1: “Now in case a soul sins in that he has heard public cursing and he is a witness or he has seen it or has come to know of it, if he does not report it, then he must answer for his error.” Again, for non-JWs, allow me to paraphrase:

If Jehovah blesses you with the mission to help clean an evildoer out of the congregation, and you fail to do your part, then you have not simply sinned yourself – your sin is even greater than the sin you are helping to conceal. You are a “co-conspirator”. You are a greater sinner than even the person who’s sin you are helping to hide. You chose the evildoer over Jehovah.

The WATCHTOWER article continues:

This command from the Highest Level of authority in the universe put the responsibility upon each Israelite to report to the judges any serious wrongdoing that he observed so that the matter might be handled. While Christians are not strictly under the Mosaic Law, its principles still apply in the Christian congregation. Hence, there may be times when a Christian is obligated to bring a matter to the attention of the elders. True, it is illegal in many countries to disclose to unauthorized ones what is found in private records. But if a Christian feels, after prayerful consideration, that he is facing a situation where the law of God required him to report what he knew despite the demands of lesser authorities, then that is a responsibility he accepts before Jehovah. There are times when a Christian “must obey God as ruler rather than men.” …

While oaths or solemn promises should never be taken lightly, there may be times when promises required by men are in conflict with the requirement that we render exclusive devotion to our God. When someone commits a serious sin, he, in effect, comes under a ‘public curse’ from the One wronged, Jehovah God. … All who become part of the Christian congregation put themselves under ‘oath’ to keep the congregation clean, both by what they do personally and by the way they help others to remain clean.”

After discussing the fact that this Watchtower rule may sometimes cause great difficulties for Jehovah’s Witnesses who are lawyers, doctors, accountants, etc., as well as Jehovah’s Witnesses who are employed by doctors, hospitals, courts, lawyers, accountants, etc., this article ends with this encouragement:

“There may be occasions when a faithful servant of God is motivated by his personal convictions, based on his knowledge of God’s Word, to strain or even breach the requirements of confidentiality because of the superior demands of divine law. Courage and discretion would be needed.”

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Those readers who fully grasp the seriousness of this risk management issue will be surprised when any of such breaches of confidentiality see the light of day. The incident reported in MEDICAL ECONOMICS is one of a very few. A second incident which saw the light of day comes to us from the land down under. Bear in mind that Australia, like the U.S., is a former British colony, whose laws are also grounded in English common law.

PATTON v. VICTORIAN DEPARTMENT OF HUMAN SERVICES was a 2002-2004 case involving a Jehovah’s Witness named William Patton. Patton was an “Elder” in his local JW congregation. In 2002, Patton had been employed for more than 13 years with a “state” Department of Human Services, in the section engaged in the child protection function. In October 2002, while on the job, Patton received a telephone call from a “Mrs. W”. “Mrs. W” identified herself as a fellow Jehovah’s Witness. The purpose of “Mrs. W’s” telephone call was to obtain information pertaining to child custody proceedings between her son and former daughter-in-law, and their four children. “Mrs. W” made sure that Patton was aware that her former daughter-in-law had been disfellowshiped (excommunicated) from the Jehovah’s Witnesses. “Mrs. W” was particularly concerned that her former daughter-in-law had accused her son of sexually abusing one of his sons. Despite the fact that the topic of conversation did not involve Patton’s specific job function, the telephone call between Patton and “Mrs. W” lasted 90 minutes in length. An audit of the DHS computer system revealed that Patton accessed the family’s file during the 90 minute telephone call, and again after the call ended. Neither access was documented by Patton. The telephone conversation ended with Patton giving “Mrs. W” his home telephone number. During the later investigation, both Patton and “Mrs. W” lied about what all was discussed during that telephone conversation.

After the telephone call, “Mrs. W” inadvertently revealed some of the obtained information and its’ source to “Mrs. M”, who was the Mother of “Mrs. W’s” former daughter-in-law. This would seem to indicate that “Mrs. W”, “Mrs. M”, and the father of the children were all Jehovah’s Witnesses, who were all conspiring against the disfellowshiped former daughter-in-law. “Mrs. M” thereafter passed the info along to her daughter (“Mrs D”). “Mrs D” contacted Patton’s supervisor on the day before his annual vacation started. Evidently, “Mrs D” did a poor job communicating the breach of confidentiality to Patton’s supervisor, and Patton himself evidently lied to the supervisor, since the supervisor consented to Patton’s request to allow him to telephone “Mrs D” to resolve her complaint. The supervisor left for vacation without further discussing the matter with Patton. A few days after Patton’s call to “Mrs D”, she again complained to the supervisor’s replacement, and this time an internal investigation was initiated.

Patton was suspended during the lengthy 8 months DHS investigation, which ended with Patton being fired due to his accessing records which he had no authority to access; Patton’s failure to document said access; and Patton’s unauthorized disclosure of confidential information.

Thereafter, Patton had the gall to file a “wrongful discharge” case with the Australian Industrial Relations Commission, which proceeded to both rule in DHS’s favor, as well as confirm that Patton intentionally disclosed his employer’s confidential information to a fellow Jehovah’s Witness, in order to harm a disfellowshiped JW; plus Patton and the Jehovah’s Witness to whom he disclosed the confidential info both subsequently LIED to coverup the crime.

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ADDITIONAL UNDOCUMENTED BREACH OF CONFIDENTIALITY INCIDENTS

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With regard to the charge of CHILD SEX ABUSE or CHILD MOLESTATION made against the Jehovah’s Witness in the above scenario, Employers who place Jehovah’s Witness Employees in positions which require interaction with minors or disabled adults should be aware that Jehovah’s Witnesses have as many, if not more, sexual predators in their midst as does any other social or religious group. Jehovah’s Witnesses have been called by some “the most sexually repressed group of people on this planet”. That attribution has caused some people to think that Jehovah’s Witnesses are less likely to commit sexual crimes than other members of the general population. Growing evidence seems to point to the exact opposite. Such Employers should visit the SILENTLAMBS.ORG website, which is devoted exclusively to the issue of sexual crimes committed by Jehovah’s Witnesses. The owner/operator of that website has been featured in multiple different news reports and documentaries broadcasted on nearly every major television network over the past five years. He is a former Jehovah’s Witness Elder who labels the WatchTower organization as a “pedophile’s paradise”.

http://jwemployees.bravehost.com/NewsReports/2008.html

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