A Mississippi politician abides by the ‘Billy Graham rule,’ but his refusal to be alone with a woman other than his wife in a work setting could be illegal, according to an employment law expert


Robert Foster

A Mississippi gubernatorial candidate is currently facing widespread backlash over his controversial decision to bar a female reporter from covering him for a day without bringing along a male colleague.
Republican state representative Robert Foster told Mississippi Today’s Larrison Campbell that she could not join his campaign for a ride-along day on the trail.
He said he and his wife follow the “Billy Graham Rule,” in which Christian men avoid ever being alone with women other than their wives, “to avoid any situation that may evoke suspicion or compromise of our marriage.”
Professor Joanna Grossman, a prominent scholar and expert on employment and gender discrimination law, told INSIDER that Foster banning Campbell from covering him alone doesn’t violate federal anti-discrimination law Title VII.
Title VII only covers discrimination within an employer-employee relationship.
But Grossman added that the blanket policy Foster described in his tweets of not being alone with another woman in following the Billy Graham rule “would violate several different laws” in the context of his current position as a state representative.
Under the Equal Protection clause, government officials like state representatives and governors “cannot treat people differently on the basis of sex without an important governmental interest,” Grossman explained.
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A Mississippi gubernatorial candidate is currently facing widespread backlash over his controversial decision to bar a female reporter from covering him for a day without bringing along a male colleague because of his Christian beliefs — but his policy of never being alone with a woman who isn’t his wife could violate federal law.

Republican state representative Robert Foster caused an uproar by citing his Christian faith to tell a female reporter, Mississippi Today’s Larrison Campbell, that she could not join his campaign for a ride-along day on the trail unless a male colleague accompanied her.

In a Tuesday column for the site, Campbell said the Foster campaign told her they couldn’t allow her to report on the campaign for a day alone “because they believed the optics of the candidate with a woman, even a working reporter, could be used in a smear campaign to insinuate an extramarital affair.”

In a series of Wednesday and Thursday tweets, Foster said it wasn’t just optics but also his Christian beliefs that he refused to be alone with another woman, writing, “the liberal left lost their minds over the fact I choose not to be alone with another woman. They can’t believe, that even in 2019, someone still values their relationship with their wife and upholds their Christian Faith.”

Read more: A Mississippi GOP candidate for governor cites his Christian faith in barring a female reporter from covering him unless she’s accompanied by a man

Foster further explained that he and his wife “made a commitment to follow the ‘Billy Graham rule,'” named for the late Evangelical pastor Billy Graham who urged Christian men to avoid being alone with women other than their wives, and “to avoid any situation that may evoke suspicion or compromise of …read more

Source:: Businessinsider – Politics

      

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