GM Prevails on Diversity Program Discrimination Claim

December 30, 2005 ( - The US 7th Circuit Court of Appeals has concurred with a lower court's dismissal of a case alleging that General Motors (GM) discriminated on the basis of religion in the company's diversity program.

According to the court opinion, the diversity program treats persons of all religions the same, and therefore is not discriminatory.   Guidelines of the program prohibit any group advocating or promoting a religious or political position, therefore GM was reasonable in denying program status to an employee’s proposed Christian Employee Network.

To support employees from diverse backgrounds, GM started the Affinity Group program which makes company resources available to recognized groups, according to the court document.   Proposed groups must apply for registration to be approved by GM for Affinity Group Status. The Affinity program currently has groups representing disabled employees, gay and lesbian employees, Hispanics, Asians, and veterans, as well as other similar groups.

An employee submitted an application for the GM Christian Employee Network to be recognized as an Affinity Group.   The application was denied due to the guideline prohibiting groups that advocate or promote a religious position.   The employee sued GM for discrimination in US District Court after receiving a Right to Sue letter from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, claiming GM showed favoritism to non-religious employees.

The District Court granted GM’s motion to dismiss the suit for failure to state a claim on which relief could be granted.   On appeal, the appellate court affirmed the lower court’s decision.

The opinion in John W. Moranski v. General Motors Corporation can be read  here .