Monday, December 13, 2010

Did religious beliefs impact a hiring selection?

Here is an interesting case and I haven't made up my mind yet -- probably because of a lack of information. The early stories have me concerned. OK, let me know what you think about this: The Kentucky Courier-Journal is reporting "Job candidate sues UK [University of Kentucky], claiming religion cost him the post". I know the DI will have to stick their know-little-noses in soon, but I wanted to get an idea before they start polluting the Internet.

I actually caught this off the NCSE website at "Creationism at issue in employment dispute?"Please note the question mark. I am not sure of the issues in this yet, but it bears thinking.

Well if you haven't read up on it, here is a summary: In 2007 Martin Gaskell was a candidate to be the founding director of a new observatory at the University of Kentucky. The Courier-Journal is reporting that he was the leading candidate -- but that is something I am not sure can be substantiated. Again according to the suit Prof Gaskell claims that because he gave presentations in which he said that

"he believes the theory [of evolution] has major flaws. And he recommended students read ... critics [of evolution] in the intelligent-design movement."
was the reason he was not selected for the position. So he sued for
"because of his religious beliefs and his expression of these beliefs" in violation of the Civil Rights Acts of 1964 and 1991."
Since ID has been identified by a Federal Court as Creationism in a lab-coat, so it certainly can be argued that one of the factors in his not being selected might have been his support of ID. But how critical a factor was this?

There may very well have been other factors that lead to him not being selected -- UK hasn't said much yet other than his beliefs were a factor -- heck nearly anything can cause you to be non-selected, it's not like he was fired from a position.

Now one of the questions is should they have been a factor? There is my dilemma. It's easy to see why Guillermo Gonzales, Nathanial Abraham, and John Freshwater have all experiences career setbacks -- and while they all claim religious discrimination, so far the evidence hasn't backed them up. Is this one more case in point where someone's religious beliefs may have impacted, but not have been the cause of being not-selected. It will be a case worth keeping track of, that's for sure. It's easy to claim discrimination, as we have seen.

Oh, in case you hadn't realized it, but Prof Gaskell is not a biologist, but an Astronomer. So you might think that shouldn't make a difference. But you should also remember that he is still a scientist, and in the position he claims to have been a leading candidate he would be in a leadership and supervisory position over others. The work of the observatory would also be looked at for publicity and even as a source of recruitment for the University. Do you want someone who questions a field outside his own and directs students to look at non-scientific material running such a facility? There is the question that faced the selection committee and we know how they answered it, they went elsewhere. So was their decisions the correct one?

I don't know -- yet, but I do agree that his beliefs SHOULD have been a factor of his selection. Not for him having them, but for how those beliefs could impact his ability to do his job. That's the question that really needs to be answered. I am sure Guillermo Gonzalez wasn't even on the consideration list and I am sure no one would question that decision. Well like I said, a case worth watching. I am interesting in ALL of the evaluation criteria and see how other candidate measured up.

1 comment:

  1. You should know about the blog "The Science of Anthropology" that the blogger is apparently not a graduate student in anthropology at MIT as she claims ("doctorate student"--really?), and her blogs are plagiarized. For example, the one you commented on is plagiarized from this blog: