Liahona
Facing Prejudice in the Workplace
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Facing Prejudice in the Workplace

The author lives in Zacatecas, Mexico.

It was very hard when I was refused a job because I am a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

person signing a form

When I was younger, I attended a private university in my home state in Mexico. I always got along very well with the teachers and university director. I was a great student and got good grades, and the director and I stayed in touch after I finished my degree.

One day in 2010, I was talking with the director. She told me that the university was short a few teachers, and she offered me a job because of my skills and experience.

It felt like such a blessing to me. I was out of work at the time, and we were struggling just to eat. It would be a dream for me to teach so I could provide for my wife and children.

I said, “Of course. It would be my pleasure.”

She said, “Great! The next semester starts in 15 days. We need you to fill out this paperwork and come to the orientation so that you can start working.”

Unexpected and Undeserved

When I went to fill out the paperwork, another teacher saw me and asked what I was going to put where it asked about my religion.

I said, “I’m a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.”

He said, “I recommend that you don’t put that down. If you do, they are going to reject your paperwork immediately.”

I asked myself, How could this be? It’s the twenty-first century. How could religion be an issue? Besides, I felt that I needed to be honest, so I was. I finished the paperwork and emailed it. The next day, I waited to receive information on my teaching schedule. Nothing happened.

The day after that, I contacted the director and asked her about it. She said, “You know what, it’s not going to work out.”

I asked, “Why, what happened?”

She told me, “Your class curriculum doesn’t satisfy the academic requirements.”

This made no sense because she was the one who had offered me the job in the first place. The administrators later told me the truth: I lost the job due to my religion.

Because the university had no written rule or policy regarding the beliefs or religion of the faculty, I had been unfairly discriminated against. It was very hard for me personally, but especially because I didn’t know how I would provide for my family.

Turning to God for Help

One of the things that helped me was thinking about how Nephi was able to build a boat without knowing how to do it before he started (see 1 Nephi 17:7–55; 18:1–4). Knowing that God can guide me and provide the things my family needs helped me make it through this challenging time. As I considered my situation, Heavenly Father helped me so that I never felt angry, and I decided I should let it go. He helped me focus on my family and find a different job as a reporter, and that was a great blessing.

Helping Others

Jesus Christ provides us with the perfect example. Instead of acting with prejudice toward others, we can treat others as He does.

In my calling as an institute teacher, I recently taught about the parable of the Good Samaritan (see Luke 10:25–37). Life can bring pain that we don’t deserve, and many times we might feel like the man who was beaten and robbed, just hoping that someone will help us. But in this parable, our Savior, Jesus Christ, wants us to be more like the Samaritan or the innkeeper, who took care of those who were hurt. That’s what the Savior did in spite of His own intense rejection and pain. I realized that instead of choosing to be the victim, I can choose to act in the role of healer.

We can all strive to be good neighbors, good friends, good people, and good citizens. That will become easier as we love our neighbors and try to understand that people make mistakes. Sometimes these mistakes might be unpleasant to us. But showing understanding and forgiveness will help us love others, support those who are in need, and change the world.

God strengthens us so that we can help others when they are struggling. We just need to be ready so He can teach us how to do it.