Questions of discrimination are frequently being asked by Rescue Mission leaders.
It is the right question to be asking; however, the risk is not limited to just non-profits. We have seen a dramatic increase in allegations of discrimination and lawsuits since the 2015 introduction of Caitlyn Jenner and the Pentagon policy shift.
Claims of gender discrimination are no longer just in the big city. It is a part of a major cultural shift, and we are seeing claims of discrimination spread to regions and businesses that would have previously been considered “safe.” Some of these have been in the news, while others have mercifully stayed silent.
As we studied the insurance policies protecting a variety of missions, we have identified numerous policies with significant gaps. Statistically, your mission’s policy is probably one with significant gaps as well – and this is why we are very concerned. While these gaps exist in the almost all of the most commonly-purchased insurance policies for Rescue Missions, we also noticed other areas where missions leaders incorrectly assume there is coverage. Risks are increasing, we recommend that you explore this a little further.
Testing and Transition
Christians have been in the spotlight for discrimination for quite a few years. Whether declining to bake a cake or refusing to perform a wedding ceremony, the media are having a hay-day and the courts are very busy. This week, we learned of two more close-to-home situations, testing assumptions:
1. “Men have come to our mission wanting to be admitted to our women’s program. They have asked about our understanding of the HUD rules and wanted to know our policies regarding transgender accommodations.”
2. We have another client that was sued by the EEOC for terminating a woman’s employment. She was about to transition to a transgender male. There was no case, but the mission did have to pay significant legal fees. Note that this was in a Bible Belt state that does not offer many state laws that protect transgender rights.
This is clearly not Mayberry; in the transition to new norms, we’re experiencing some discomfort. As leaders, one key responsibility is to ensure the financial stability of your own mission through solid and effective risk management… the next step is yours to take.
Looking at your own Coverage
Seemingly frivolous lawsuits require a lawyer to provide a defense – and when your core values stand contrary to someone’s personal preferences or agenda, you’ll benefit from legal counsel and defense. Our friends and clients tell us they want the best defense if the courts find them guilty. Ensure that your policies are meeting your expectations. Ask your broker to show you his side-by-side comparison of discrimination coverage, or ask one of us. Perhaps we ought to discuss how the Merriam team might partner with you.
We’d be happy to demonstrate the value we bring to the relationship.
The Ethical Changes
Sociologists have been commenting on the rate of change in our generation. We’re seeing change happen faster and faster each year. Our ethical foundations are no exception as we are rapidly exhibiting signs of the shift from theocentric to anthropocentric ethics, which some groups consider “old-school” to “new-school.” These core values are being tested by lawsuits – and we’re watching the erosion of our freedom to operate on our “old” presuppositions.
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