Dear Evil Skippy:
My employer offers a lot of on-site perks, including a gym where we can exercise before or after work. They bring in instructors for group classes during the lunch break for anyone who wants to sign up. One of the most popular sessions is yoga. The class is now in danger because one of our co-workers claims that it is satanic and violates her religion. She is telling everyone that she will file a federal lawsuit unless the classes are ended. I thought she was nuts, but she brought in an article by some religious leader who agrees with her and now there is a rumor going around that the company is seriously thinking about stopping the yoga class. Does management have to do what the crazy lady says? What can we do?
— Save My Karma
Dear Save My Karma –
Take a deep cleansing breath, then slap her.
— Evil Skippy
No, no, no. Repeat after me: Slapping is wrong. Slapping is wrong. Tempting, but wrong.
You need to find a way to respect your co-worker’s right to think whatever she wants to think. Respecting her does not mean doing what she demands — it means not calling her names or making fun of her personal beliefs. Hopefully, your management already knows that the only accommodation that must be offered to her is a reasonable one. In your case, it means that the company should not force your co-worker to participate in a yoga class or any yoga practices. There is no need to cancel the classes and deny the rest of you your exercise.
Meanwhile, do not let rumors run your emotions. Ask to speak with your Human Resources Director or whoever is in charge of setting up the lunchtime classes. Find out if there really is a chance that yoga will be canceled. Perhaps you are worried about nothing. If the class is in jeopardy, get creative. Start a petition (one to save the class, not to slap anyone). Invite the decision-maker to sit in on a class to see first-hand that you are just doing yoga, not summoning hordes of little devils. (Of course, this plan will fail if you actually are engaged in demon worship as you stretch).
Above all, stay calm and rationale. You should be good at that after all your classes.
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