HR Strange But True!
July 09, 2004

We all know that HR is never dull, but sometimes it can get downright strange...

Virginia workers get religion

When word got around that Virginia lawmakers had mistakenly resurrected a "day of rest" law for all employees, it took no time for workers across the state to begin telling bosses they wanted Sundays off--for religious purposes, of course.

The Associated Press reports that supermarkets, manufacturers, restaurants, and home-improvement stores were among the employers that reported receiving the requests in the past week.

The goof occurred when lawmakers approved a bill meant to abolish outdated blue laws, which forbid Sunday business operations. The bill also wiped out language in another part of the state code that protected a variety of businesses from "day of rest" laws. Dating back to colonial times, such laws allowed workers to request off on their chosen day of worship--Sunday in many cases, but possibly Saturday, according to the Daily Press of Hampton Roads, Virginia.

By the time the mistake was discovered, it was too late to prevent the bill from becoming law July 1. By that time, employers and employees alike knew what had happened. At Professional Hospitality Resources, which operates eight Virginia Beach hotels, requests for Sundays off began coming from housekeeping and front-office staff, said Ken Taylor, the company's executive vice president.

"They found the Lord quickly, when it worked," Taylor said wryly.

But Eugene Garner, employee of a Home Depot store in Richmond, told the AP that he had asked for Sundays off in the past so he could attend church but had been denied. "If it sticks, it will be the answer to my prayers," he said of the new law.

That appears unlikely, however. Gov. Mark R. Warner has summoned the General Assembly to return Tuesday to correct the bill.


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