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Posted On: January 4, 2010 by

Mesaba Airlines Flying Low After Paying $130,000 To Settle Discrimination Lawsuit

Mesaba Airlines settled a religious discrimination lawsuit filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of five individuals. The EEOC alleged in the lawsuit that Mesaba Airlines violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 when it terminated a Jewish customer service agent because she refused to work on the Jewish Sabbath. Four Christian applicants who applied for employment were allegedly rejected during interviews because they stated a desire for weekend shifts that would not conflict with Sunday church services.

Mesaba Airlines had a policy whereby employees could not request a shift change even if they made arranagements with other employees and made the arrangements well in advanace of the schedule change. The no shift swap policy conflicted with Title VII, which requires an employer to reasonably accommodate an employee whose religious belief conflicts with a work requirement. This only except is if the accommodation creates an undue hardship on the employer. As a result of this lawsuit Mesaba Airlines no longer has the policy. The EEOC claimed the policy was a form of discrimination.

“Employees should not be forced to choose between practicing their faith and keeping or getting a job,” said EEOC Acting Chairman Stuart J. Ishimaru. “As this suit shows, the EEOC vigorously enforces Title VII’s protection against religious discrimination.”

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