Oh, work. You're hilarious. A few weeks ago, an organization reached out to me to inquire about my ability to help them craft some organizational policies. I was super-excited about the idea, because this organization's mission was in offering services to our area's homeless population, with a focus on families needing assistance. Also, this was to be my FIRST time working with a client that didn't come to me through a mutual acquaintance. I scheduled a quick phone call with them to get the scoop, as the office manager said she needed to chat with me before passing me along to the person in charge of contracting. Here's how it went:
Me: Could you start by telling me a little bit about your needs?
Office Manager: Well, we need a new policy and need someone to help us make sure it's written in a legal way.
Me: Ok, what kind of policy is this?
OM: Um...this is confidential, right?
Me: Absolutely; I will never share my clients' information without permission.*
OM: Well, we're a "faith-based organization," and we offer shelter to families. We have a family that wants our services, but it's a gay couple with kids. That goes against our faith, so we need a policy that will allow us to keep them out.
[Sidebar: I am not making this up, and she really was this matter-of-fact about it.]
Me: Ok. So you want a policy that will allow you to discriminate** in your admission of families so you don't have to allow the gay couple in?
Me. Well, I can tell you I am not the person to help you with this.*** If you would like legal advice on this issue, I suggest you contact the [Redacted] State Bar Association.
OM: Ok, thank you.
Me: [out of habit] Best of luck to you! [I could kick myself for saying this.]
Thank you, Nameless Organization, for reminding me that sometimes saying No to paid work is a no-brainer.****
* I don't think I'm breaching confidentiality by telling this ridiculous story. I'll never share the name of the organization.
** I really did use the word "discriminate," but in a neutral tone. She really did say "yes" when I asked her if that's what she was hoping to do.
*** I did not tell her that I am married to a woman, have two kids, and totally disagree with the idea that religious beliefs should permit an organization to discriminate in the delivery of services. At this point, I felt kind of bad for her. I do, however, wish I could figure out who the family is so I could help them get the services they need.
**** I recognize that I am fortunate to be able to say no to stuff like this, and I would not judge someone for taking the work if they truly needed it. But I'd encourage them to never speak of it again.