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Old 10-20-2008, 06:54 AM   #1
jillduffy
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Default Religious Observance in the Game Industry

You can use this space to comment on the Ask the Experts article about Religious Observance in the Game Industry.

Other places where there are comments are on Gamasutra and the IGDA quality-of-life forum.

UPDATED OCT. 24, 2008
I recently received this letter and want to share it. If the author gives me permission to use his or her name, I will publish it more prominently on the site. The author mentioned s/he is a J.D. candidate:

"In your column, you give your readers the impression that they are at the mercy of employers who choose to discriminate against them on the basis of their religion or sex. I take particular issue with this line: 'If no one ever says or writes, 'she fell too far out of the loop when she took that maternity leave,' or, 'his observance of the Sabbath leaves us one overtime programmer short once a week,' there is no recourse for the employee.'

"I am sure you meant well in writing this, but it simply is not true. Ask any employment lawyer and they will explain to you that very few law suits for employment discrimination rely on this kind of direct evidence of discrimination. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 permits individuals who work in a business with 15 or more employees to sue if they are subject to discrimination on the basis of their race, color, sex, religion, or national origin, provided that they suffer an adverse employment action like demotion, firing, or even being turned down for a job in the first place. In the mid-1970s, the Supreme Court of the United States decided a case called McDonnell-Douglas Corp. v. Green. McDonnell-Douglas created a method of proving a Title VII violation by pointing to circumstantial evidence. Many states (such as Illinois) have their own laws against employment discrimination that operate in a similar way.

"The upshot of all this is that if an orthodox jewish programmer does all of his work to his employer's satisfaction, but one day he has to take off a day from work for a jewish holiday and his boss fires him, he may still have a shot at winning reinstatement or damages even though no one was foolish enough to come out and tell him the unlawful reason for his firing. It just depends on the facts of the situation and whether a reasonable inference can be drawn that his religion was the primary reason he was fired.

"I do not doubt that you are one of 'the Experts' when it comes to careers in the game industry. However, before you discuss the legal rights and remedies available to employees who have been wronged in the workplace, I suggest consulting another kind of expert: a lawyer. Otherwise, you run the risk of wrongly convincing good people that they have to suffer the indignity of illegal workplace discrimination in silence."
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Last edited by jillduffy : 10-24-2008 at 08:03 AM. Reason: received letter to the editor
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Old 10-20-2008, 11:30 AM   #2
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Hmm, I found the discussion on the IGDA forum about keeping kosher limitations quite interesting.
Living in Israel I take most of the things mentioned in the article (and in the discussion) for granted. The Jewish holydays are national holydays over here, so it's not that much of a problem (This last month have been great, working only 2-3 days a week ) and in some years the holydays come out on the weekend (the Jewish calendar is not in sync with the regualr calendar), so I don't think it always comes down to 12 days.
About the kosher issue - most of the people at my work place (including myself) are secualr (meaning we don't keep kosher or the Sabath) but we have a few people who are orthodox, and they usually bring their own dishes from home (I don't think there is a problem with the microwave itself, as long as the dishes are kept kosher).
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Old 10-20-2008, 12:55 PM   #3
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I wanted to mention something that came up while I was talking to my sources for this article.

Wade Tinney (Large Animal Games co-founder) gave the advice that someone who has unique issues would do well to get an internship first to prove that the issues are easily surmountable and to become a valuable member of the team, thereby encouraging the employer to hire them, due to the savings incurred by not having to interview, train, a new employee.

But it's not just for religious issues. It works for non-citizens, too.

Tinney has a non U.S. citizen intern. She was hired as an intern while on a student visa. Her student visa is about to expire. Because the team already knows her, likes her, and is familiar with what she can do, they want to keep her. It's worthwhile for the company to help her get that expensive work visa just to keep her.

But if they hadn't known her, they would not have been as likely to hire her and help her get a visa.

I would love to dedicate another column to this topic, as I know many of the readers of this site are in need of work visas to be in the game industry.

Does anyone have additional advice along these lines? It doesn't have to be U.S.-specific.
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Old 10-20-2008, 01:39 PM   #4
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I think I mentioned it in my AGDC summary, but it turns out that getting a Visa is one of the main hurdles for me in getting into the industry. It's especially hard in the US but turns out that it's also an issue in other countries (like Canada). I admit it's a bit frustrating (Allot of the conversations I had with HR reps at the expo at AGDC virtually ended the moment they learned I'm from Israel and don't have a visa)

From the research I've made, going to school in a country will usually grant you a year (or more) of working visa after the end of your degree. I know it works in the US (but I think it's limited to a graduate degree) and in Canada and the UK, I think there are some limitations in each of these countries (I would be happy to get the exact rules if anyone here knows about them).
This is the route I will probably take, but it's a long one and quite expensive (There are scholarships for foreign students out there).
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Last edited by TG1 : 10-20-2008 at 01:43 PM.
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