Want a Job at Subway? This Owner’s Looking for a Few Honest Christians…

The Subway sandwich chain is very clear on its website that it’s an equal opportunity employer. They say that they:

[do] not tolerate discrimination of any kind on the basis of race, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, creed, religion, color or national origin within the SUBWAY® brand family.

Kermit Ball operates about 20 Subways in the Charleston, West Virginia area and I guess no one told him about the anti-discrimination policy because he has made it very clear that Christians should apply to work for him because he needs some “honest” employees…

I assume this is what Ball’s workers would wear (via Creation Marketing)

[Ball] may have violated the state Human Rights Act when he sent a letter to several churches and congregations saying his company was “in need of Christian employees.”

The letter, in part, reads: “Due to changing times, we are looking for good honest people. If you have anyone in your congregation in need of a job, or new career, please have them contact us at the address provided above. We are looking for sandwich artists, shift managers, assistant managers and supervisers. The Hammond Group owns and operates 20 Subway restaurants. We are a Christian based company and in need of Christian employees.

When asked about the letter, Ball reiterated its points.

“Robbery and theft in stores is really, really high and we’re trying to find honest people to run registers,” Ball said. “I’m not elaborating on anything, our owners are Christians.”

Since he won’t say it out loud, I’ll do it for him: Ball thinks that Muslim and atheist workers would be thieves. Sikhs, too. And Pagans.

“The concern is… the implication of the letter is only Christians are good, honest people,” said Paul Dalzell, a worship service leader, at the Unitarian Universalist Church in Charleston, which received a copy of the letter.

Monsignor Edward Sadie of Sacred Heart Co-Cathedral in Charleston wasn’t sure if his church received the letter.

“There are a lot of other non-Christians, Jews, Muslims and some immigrants that may be Sikhs, Hindus that are honest, hard-working faith-filled individuals,” Sadie said. “I don’t know that you need to be a Christian to make a good Subway sandwich.”

The ad for Ball’s company (which owns the Subway stores) is still up on on at least one church website.

This may not be outright discrimination. You could argue that Ball is just recruiting employees — and if an atheist (or other non-Christian) applied for a job at one of his stores, s/he wouldn’t be disqualified upon arrival. You have to wonder, though, what would happen if someone wearing a turban or hijab applied to work at one of his stores… would that person really get a fair chance?

More disturbing is the notion that, somehow, in Ball’s mind, Christianity is synonymous with honesty. Which may also suggest that non-Christians are dishonest. We’re talking about someone who’s a bigot, whether or not he’s breaking the law. And do you really want to buy sandwiches from a store owned by a guy like that?

So far, the Subway corporation hasn’t said anything condemning this practice. Even if it’s technically legal, it’s a poor reflection on them to have a franchisee act like this.

If you don’t eat at Chick-fil-A because of the owner’s bigoted views on homosexuality, then you may want to hold off on eating at a Subway until this issue gets resolved.

(Thanks to Brian for the link)

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.

  • Regina Carol Moore

    He seems very dishonest. He’s going to have a hard time getting honest people to work for him, considering how slimy he is.

  • MarkTemporis

    Subway is a franchise. At worst, hold off on eating at those specific franchises, but I don’t see much of a problem here. The ‘looking for honest employees’ stuff is basically boilerplate equivalent to ‘we want enthusiastic, happy workers’, and using the church network to get out your message is a secondary purpose of what churches are for.

    If I owned a business and needed to hire employees, just putting in ‘Help Wanted’ signs in the window wouldn’t really be enough. I’d try to put the message out to my social circle, which would include RPG enthusiasts, heavy metal fans, and, yes, Humanist and Secular groups (which basically take the place of church in my social life). Does this imply I might not wish to employ adherents of *ANY* religion? Possibly.

    • allein

      Well one question, then, is did he send this letter to anywhere other than churches? But when one sentence says “looking for honest employees” and then later in the paragraph is specifies “Christian employees,” it kinda says a lot about what he considers as criteria for judging someone likely to be an honest employee.

    • rtanen

      I don’t think you would say “We are a Secular Humanism based company and in need of Secular Humanist employees,” however, which would be the equivalent of what this letter said.

    • JWH

      which would include RPG enthusiasts

      “I would be happy to make you a meatball sub. Unfortunately, I rolled a natural 1 on my Craft (sandwich) check.”

      • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ wmdkitty

        Ouch!

  • Scarlet Letter A

    Dang, I eat at Subway multiple times a week, though in Chicago, not there. The one I go to is run by people originally from India, so ostensibly not Christian. I’d guess this is a regional issue. Or at least I hope so, since I hope to not have to boycott them like I do Chick-Fil-A…

    • allein

      It’s a franchise, so it’s just the specific company that owns these particular branches, not the Subway corporation. You’re probably fine. :)

    • Lurker111

      Yeah, has to be a regional thing. The two Subways near where I live (in Richmond, Va.) are both good and both run by Pakistanis, I think.

    • Lauren

      the issue is will the Subway corporation condemn what this guy has done or let it be. If they don’t reprimand him or issue an opposing statement then they are supporting him.

  • Vic Marquis

    Has he seen the per capita ratio of Xians to atheists in prison? Jeez! Hire an atheist! My experience is that they who think like this are usually exactly like this. If you smelt it, you probably dealt it.

    • Without Malice

      I’ve done quite a bit of work in prisons and I don’t think I ever saw a cell without either a bible or a Koran.

      • Sweetredtele

        “Does God want goodness or the choice of goodness? Is a man who chooses to be bad perhaps in some way better than a man who has the good imposed upon him?”
        ― Anthony Burgess, A Clockwork Orange

        • iamgog

          I was cured all right…

  • invivoMark

    “This may not be outright discrimination. You could argue that Ball is just recruiting employees[.]”

    You could argue that. You’d be wrong, but you could argue it.

    • rtanen

      I think that commenter felt that in general, mentioning job opportunities at a church was okay, not that mentioning job opportunities only at a church and specifying one wanted Christian employees was okay.

  • Michaela Samuels

    I fear he’ll be unpleasantly surprised when his youth group recruits prove to have just as much a knack for sticking it to the man as the rest of the hoodlums he’s hired.

  • AnnaG

    While advertising for employees in a religious publication would probably be legal, if he asks any questions about religious belief in an interview someone would have a sweet lawsuit on their hands.

    • Mick

      He need only ask, “Where did you see the advertisement?”

      If the answer is, “On the church website,” he can make some silent assumptions about their religious belief — lawsuit avoided.

  • Free

    America. Thank God. This is what has made us great. Freedom of speech etc… As long as the actions can be deemed legal, move on. If the fuss is just preference and frustration that a Christian owner wants people of like mind to work for him, so be it. Turn the table and everyone shuts up. The proof is whether or not he hires these church folk and the incidents of thievery etc… ceases, then ask him for his add and pass it on.

    • Wren

      The think is, I think that saying you want Christian employees means that you intend not to hire non-Christians. That IS illegal.

    • RobMcCune

      You heard it folks, christians believe discrimination made America great.

      • Free

        Rob, the comments were not intended to promote discrimination. You wish it were the case. The issue is that unless this owner hires only Christians and does not provide others opportunity, then he is doing what he thinks is best for his business. Sure it does not make you happy, but is it illegal? That is the issue, not our preferences. Time will tell where this goes and whether the legal line is crossed.

        • David Kopp

          “If the owner hires only white people and does not provide others opportunity, then he is doing what he things is best for his business. Sure it does not make you happy, but is it illegal?”

          Reframed that for you.

        • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

          If he has fifteen (15) or more employees for each working day in each of twenty or more calendar weeks in the current or preceding calendar year, and includes race, color, religion, sex or national origin in his hiring criteria, then he is breaking the law.

          Our unhappiness is not required.

          Edit to add:

          In West Virginia, companies with 12 or more employees (one or more employees for gender-based wage discrimination) are subject to the state’s antidiscrimination law.

          http://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/west-virginia-employment-discrimination-31867.html

          What I don’t know is if the employee requirement applies to a single place of business, or all establishments under his umbrella company. I strongly suspect the latter.

          • pixlepix

            In what situation would you have wage discrimination with 0 employees?

            • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

              Do you mean is there a loophole for your initial hiring? You hire X people all at once at the start of the business and you can discriminate? Somehow I doubt it.

      • Matt D

        Trust me, I didn’t need to hear that to know they love discrimination, they can barely think for themselves, let alone understand it’s wrong to favor others on the basis they share your religion (or skin color, orientation, etc). Religion merely gives them an excuse to be awful to others.

        • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

          I’m beginning to think there is a connection between you and mis-attributed posts. Not that I think you’re making them, but I think the disqus bug maybe relates to people without fixed accounts. This one originally show up for me attributed to Free.

          • C.L. Honeycutt

            Could be. Blacksheep and my squeeze Frank very often show misattributed posts on my screen.

          • Matt D

            I realize it’s been a problem.

            • Matt D

              Well, hopefully, this newly registered moniker fixes it.
              .
              I’m definately tired of seeing my real name (even a part of it) smeared everytime I argue with trolls.

    • smrnda

      “As long as the actions can be deemed legal, move on”

      Slavery was once legal until people upset with it made it against the law. It used to be okay to pay workers in ‘company money’ good only at the ‘company store’ but people thought that sucked so they had the laws change. It used to be legal to lock workers in a room with no way out, but that law was changed because this was oppressive and unsafe.

      I’d also add that part of ‘freedom’ is that businesses are free to make non-discrimination a company policy, and they can be even stricter about it than the law requires. Subway’s official policy seems to be at odds with this particular franchise owner’s actions.

    • kaydenpat

      That’s the point of the post. It’s not legal to discriminate based on religion or lack thereof (or membership in other protected groups).

    • C.L. Honeycutt

      Poor, poor stupid troll. Poor Dumbums.

    • Tom

      First, that isn’t what made the USA great and second, in case you hadn’t noticed, possibly being too busy telling everyone otherwise, it actually ain’t so great any more. Aside from a gigantic military, and the country’s sheer geographic size if you want to count that, on a per capita basis the USA is flagging quite badly in many ways. It may still meet a barbarian’s definition of the word “great,” but that’s all.

  • Free

    Hey, would any of you atheists hire a Christian to run your organization and handle your affairs etc..? Just curious. Be honest.

    • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

      Trolling or just dense… I’m going with trolling.

      It would be impossible to run any sizable business and restrict you employee population to just atheists.

      • WallofSleep

        Heh, here in the states, even if you broadened that to included all non-xtians, you’d still be hard pressed for adequate candidates.

        EDIT: I’m not implying that xtians make better employees, just that they make up an overwhelming majority of the population.

    • allein

      If I owned a business and they were qualified for the job, sure.

    • flyb

      Yes, if they are the best qualified. And you may be shocked to know that many atheists have Christian family members and friends, as well.

      • allein

        Christian family?! Oh no, no, no. That’s it, my mom’s fired!

    • Without Malice

      I can’t imagine why the subject would come up.

    • Rob Bos

      In many places, it would be illegal to not hire someone based on that criteria. That’s the whole point.

    • Amor DeCosmos

      As long as that Christian manager doesn’t let his/her personal, private beliefs in the supernatural affect his/her work, I don’t see how there would be a problem.

      I live in Vancouver, Canada, and it’s generally considered tacky and unprofessional to discuss your religious beliefs in the workplace. My colleague is a minister at a Christian fundamentalist church and we have no problems because our beliefs and lack of beliefs have nothing to do with our work, so we get along just fine!

    • cary_w

      Pretty much everyone I work with is Mormon If I had brought up the fact that I’m an atheist when I interviewed for my job, I probably wouldn’t have got the job, so I was careful not to bring it up. For the sake of a pleasant work environment, I still try not to bring it up, but some of my co-workers do know I’m not Mormon. If I owned a business here it would be nearly impossible to staff it without hiring Mormon. That’s the way things are in rural Utah.

      So to answer your question, if I had to choose between two equally qualified candidates, I would choose the one who didn’t bring up their religion during the interview, but I’m pretty certain they’re both Mormons anyway.

    • http://bearlyatheist.wordpress.com/ Bear Millotts

      Well, if it was a Secular or Atheist organization, like American Atheists, I can’t see how it would hire a Xian.

      But then, how many Xian churches, like Saddleback or Mars Hill, would hire an out atheist? Probably none as well.

      So that seems pretty even.

      But if I was running a food service business, why should I care what religion or not you are? You’re there not to talk religion but make sandwiches. So, yes, I would hire Xians and Hindus and Muslims and Jains and Scientologists and Lutherans and Shinto and Buddhist and Evangelicals and Progressive Xians and more.

      My criteria would not be their religion but their experience, honesty and ability to make sandwiches for the company.

    • C.L. Honeycutt

      You aren’t “just curious”. You’ve been here. You know the actual answer, and it conflicts with the one made up in your head.

      Both my mechanic and the guy who will be moving my house this fall are Protestant ministers. I find it tacky that the mechanic borrows the name of his company from the Bible and has a habit of changing the preset stations on peoples’ car radios to Christian stations, but otherwise, they’re both good guys who are well worth working with. Their religion only came up in casual conversation.

      (It amuses me that the display for my radio tuner is dead and I don’t care enough to replace it, so the mechanic can’t see what station it’s on. The end result is that my radio is always left untouched, while my Christian sister comes home from his shop cussing about him changing all her stations.)

  • SeekerLancer

    Chick-Fil-A is tasty so the owner’s views really sucks for me. I hate Subway though so no problem!

    • allein

      Chick-Fil-A uses peanut oil so it’s not difficult for me. Also, the only one I know of around here is in a mall food court half an hour away from my house. The only one I’ve ever actually eaten at was when I met up with some friends in Pennsylvania (their pick) a few years ago to meet my friend’s baby son. The grill was broken that day so there wasn’t much I could eat that wasn’t fried. I got a salad and a drink and stopped at McDonald’s for a hamburger on my way home.

      • SeekerLancer

        I had some bad experiences with them in PA when I was a kid and always hated them. My girlfriend forced me to go to one in Texas to prove to me it was better and indeed it was.

        Neither of us go there now though.

        My hatred for Subway comes from being from PA originally where there’s no shortage of great delis with freshly made hoagies.

        • C.L. Honeycutt

          being from PA originally where there’s no shortage of great delis with freshly made hoagies.

          Holy Dog but cheese steak sandwiches are good in Philly and Pittsburgh. I had assumed it was hype before visiting up there. I saved one, unrefrigerated, for twenty hours* for the trip home and it was still goddamn delicious.

          *Yes I know that was stupid shuddup it was good

  • newavocation

    So much for making and selling sandwiches on Sundays. Oops he doesn’t honor that commandment.

    • spookiewon

      The sabbath is Saturday.

      • Spookiewonisadumbkunt

        Saturday, Sunday, Whatever. Subways open. Fuck off.

  • A3Kr0n

    You know, I’m going to die from lack of consumption if everyone gets on the atheist black list. I supposed those awesome pies from the Amish down at the farmer’s market…never mind, I know the answer. How about this for an idea: Next time we shouldn’t buy something from somebody, tell us about somebody who we should support.

    • Sweetredtele

      Which is worse, dying from lack of consumption or dying from consumption?

  • Without Malice

    A few honest Christians? Aside from the probable illegality of it all, all I can say is good luck with that. To be a Christian in the first place takes quite a bit of dishonestly. You have to pretend to believe in things you know damn well can’t be true.

    • iamgog

      Ah, but since knowledge is a subset of belief, as long as you believe that those things that you know can’t be true, it all evens out! God sure is good!

  • observer

    I wonder if he accepts money from non-Christians customers, or if they’re told to take their “stolen” money back to whomever they stole it from.

    • p3n15

      Pretty sure as long as it’s green it’s good. Even filthy Jew money.

  • Frank Key

    Gee, I would think Christians would be less trustworthy. Anyone from the “sin today be forgiven tonight” crowd would be more suspect if it were my store.

    • iamgog

      Indeed. If your entire belief system is about repentance from sin, and the capacity of God to forgive your transgressions if implored, then what’s the point of the supreme morality that so many evangelicals like to crow about?

  • Jasper

    Whereas if they want to sell temptuous sandwiches that are devilishly, sinfully good, hire more atheists.

    • WallofSleep

      “Whereas if they want to sell temptuous sandwiches that are devilishly, sinfully good…”

      … they’re already doing it wrong.

      • phantomreader42

        …and have been for quite some time.

    • Tyrrlin Flamestrike

      Ah, but it’s the *cookies* that are so sinfully good.

  • Highlander

    This is West Virginia we’re talking about. According to a 2010 Pew research survey, 75% of people there self identify as Christian. Presumably the majority of people he has hired who have turned out to be thieves are also Christian. Unless, up until this time, he has been only hiring people who are not Christian.

    My theory is if he paid his employees enough to live on they would be less tempted to steal from the register.

    • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

      With a name like that you should know the difference between ‘Christians’ and ‘True Christians’ :-)

      • Amor DeCosmos

        I see what you did there.

      • C.L. Honeycutt

        There can be only one! …True Christian, and it’s whichever one is speaking at the moment about how all the other ones have gotten it wrong.

    • Paula M Smolik

      I have had many jobs at minimum wage when I still believed in god. I didn’t steal because I wouldn’t want to be stolen from.

      • Highlander

        I never said everyone who is paid minimum wage would be a thief, only that the temptation to be one would be less if they could afford to live on that wage. You were not tempted because you are a moral person but let us consider someone who was also moral and had two kids who needed school supplies, new shoes and glasses. Their spouse has just lost their job and with it the family’s health insurance. They are $100 short on the house payment this month, and foreclosure is looming. They are presented with an opportunity to pocket $100 with no one the wiser. Would you not say the temptation to steal in this instance would be great? Would they be as likely to find themselves in this position if the person was paid a wage they could support a family on?

        • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

          I know someone *ahem* who once worked for minimum wage at a gas station. Graveyard shift. The gas station had a promotion where they would take a competitor’s coupon for $2, so long as you bought at least 10 gallons.

          Of course there were always some people who didn’t use a coupon for some reason, so the attendant could always add an extra coupon and pocket $2.. Knowing the station probably kept stats about how many coupons were used, said attendant couldn’t push her/his luck too much.

          I tried to discourage such unethical behavior, but when $2 means you get to put some veggies in your Ramen, it’s hard to argue.

      • Randay

        I have never eaten at Subway and never will after I heard that the overall owner claim he couldn’t pay higher taxes because he needed $200,000 to feed his family.

  • WallofSleep

    Yeah, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had to fight the urge to steal a king’s ransom in sub-par cold cuts simply due to an absence of faith.

    • Sweetredtele

      Interestingly enough, a super-christian I know would get free sandwiches from one of the workers in a local Subway. I was met with anger when I pointed out that that was stealing, since obviously the worker didn’t pay for them either, the owner did.

  • Babbling Brooke

    The work around to him asking about a potential hire’s beliefs is for him to ask how they heard about the job. If they say it was in their church publication or on their church website, he has his answer.

  • Bill

    Case in point… THIS is why we are “angry”… and well justified! Legalities aside, it’s the underlying assumption/ignorance that ticks me off.

  • Charles Chambers

    I sent a cordial email complaining about the covert discrimination. I let the corporate store know that I won’t be eating there until the issue is resolved.

  • shuteme

    “honest christian” ? Isn’t that an “honest” oxymoron?

  • Jessica

    LOL the biggest thief I ever knew was the son of a deacon at my dad’s church. That guy swiped everything that wasn’t nailed down, including a few cherries in the back stairwell leading to the balcony. ;) And around where I live now, there always seems to be a rash of smash and grabs on street parked cars a few days before the good Christian chilluns head off to church camp… gotta stock up on commissary money yo.

  • LesterBallard

    Hooray for my home state.

  • Ton_Chrysoprase

    Why not send the letter to prisons? They are full of Christians.

    • Ton_Chrysoprase

      Also, they refer to that disgusting flabby stuff they put the filling on as “bread”, which is not only fundamentally dishonest, but insulting to bakers anywhere.

  • Paula M Smolik

    I’ll still eat at subway. This is just one guy. Maybe I should ask if my local one is a franchise. Probably owned by a Hindu.

  • Taz

    If this guy is not already breaking the law, then with 20 stores he undoubtedly has some non-Christians currently working for him. I wonder how they feel about his little message?

  • cary_w

    Damn, I sure hope the corporate office condems this! Subway is pretty much the only fast food I ever eat at and they have some franchises in gas station out in the middle of nowhere were there really are no other reasonable food choices, I’d really hate to have to boycott them.

  • colonel science

    As much as I hate Chick-fil-A’s management, their sandwiches are too damn good to give up.

  • TnkAgn

    You have to ask: WWJD – “What Would Jared Do?”

    • http://bearlyatheist.wordpress.com/ Bear Millotts

      Isn’t it better to ask:

      WSWJM: What Sandwich Would Jesus Make?

      I think he’d go for a reuben. But then, I love reubens.

  • Rain

    More disturbing is the notion that, somehow, in Ball’s mind, Christianity is synonymous with honesty.

    Even if true, how hard is it to pretend to be a Christian? Not hard! Just ask about a billion people or so.

    • C.L. Honeycutt

      2 billion + and growing! Can’t stop the signal!

    • Compuholic

      Not completely sure about the situation in the U.S. but I would be surprised if it was substantially different: The problem is that if later it turns out you made untrue claims during the interview that is all the legal justification the company needs to terminate your contract immediately.

      Of course your religion is an inappropiate question for a job interview in the first place. And at least here in Germany there recently was a ruling that an employee does not have to be truthful about personal questions that the interviewer does not have a right to ask in the first place and I would assume that a court would decide the same way in the U.S.

      However if a company wants you gone it is always very easy for them to find a reason to do so. A few years back there was a case where somebody got fired for stealing from the company. What did he steal? He charged his private cell phone with the electricity from the office.

  • Mario Strada

    “sandwich artists”, another preposterous title so they can keep paying minimum wage and make you think you are somehow important.

    • ShoeUnited

      Agreed. Nevermind that if the artist decides to get creative and put 4 slices of cheese on a footlong instead of 3 they’re fired. I mean, it took almost 10 years to get subway to tessellate the damn cheese and now if you don’t it’s your ass.

      I’ve not worked there myself, but I’m familiar with the different levels of corporate.

  • ShoeUnited

    Christians are less honest than other groups. Here’s my argument: Lying isn’t really frowned upon. Sure you’ve got those ten commandments, but all those say is don’t lie for someone else. Plenty of places where everyone including Jesus lies. Sure they poo-poo it if you get caught, but it’s not a mortal sin and asking for forgiveness from god (not the injured party) makes everything right as rain.

    Nobody else (I’d argue even other theistic groups) have that wide of a gate to step through when it comes to liars.

  • joebob

    He spelled “supervisors” wrong.

  • Dave

    Maybe he just wants some one who will climb on top of a him and place his penis on top of his crotch, while staff are watching, and slap his face. Like the game at church camp in Chattanooga.

  • NewDawn2006

    Considering pretty much all of Congress claims to be Christians it is pretty clear that honesty is not synonymous with Christian…

  • spookiewon

    It’s still leaving yourself open to a lawsuit when you mention a particular religion. Even of you don’t dismiss other out of hand. It’s bad policy.

  • Diane Perry

    Hmm – so why then are the overwhelming numbers of prison inmates christian?

  • cipher

    We are looking for sandwich artists

    Are those the people responsible for the pictures of the Virgin Mary on grilled cheese sandwiches?

  • Jane

    I have found Christians to be the most dishonest group of people. They are willing to lie at any cost to uphold a myth. How twisted is that?

  • Gus

    Once again, the restaurant suggested for a boycott is one I haven’t eaten at for years because their food sucks. Come on, make it hard for me, at least. Come up with a reason I have to boycott Starbucks. It hardly counts as action if it’s just doing what I already do…


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