Articles Posted in Religious Discrimination

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Turner Machine Company Settles Retaliation Lawsuit For $80,000

by Peter M. LaSorsa

Turner Machine Company pays $80,000 to settle a retaliation a lawsuit. The federal lawsuit was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC“). According to documents, which were made public, Ken Woodard was hired by Turner in June 2011, and worked as a mechanical engineer. The legal issues began for Woodard when he voiced concerns about mandatory employee meetings called “huddles,” which occurred every morning. During these huddles, employees would discuss milestones occurring in their personal lives including their religious affiliations and church activities. Woodard opposed this practice, and subsequently filed a religious discrimination charge.

The charge with the EEOC was resolved through an informal mediation process, but Turner Machine later retaliated against Woodard by firing him. You may not take a negative job action against an employee who complains about discrimination. In this case, the original complaint about religious discrimination is what triggered the retaliation by the employer.

“Employers have a duty under the law to ensure that their work environment is free of retaliation.” said EEOC attorney Faye Williams

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Dynamic Medical Services Inc. Pays $170,000 To Settle Religious Discrimination Lawsuit

by Peter M. LaSorsa

Dynamic Medical Services, Inc., agreed to settle a religious discrimination lawsuit. The lawsuit was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC“) on behalf of multiple employees. According to published accounts the company required Norma Rodriguez, Maykel Ruz, Rommy Sanchez, Yanileydis Capote and other employees to spend at least half their work days in courses that involved Scientology religious practices. Under the laws the company cannot force employees to participate in religious activities as a work requirement.

Some of the bizarre requirements that company demanded of the employees were to make them scream at ashtrays or have them stare at someone for eight hours without moving. The company also instructed employees to attend courses at the Church of Scientology. I have never seen such a wacky mandate from a company. I can’t imagine being told to behave this way at work. And it gets even crazier. The company required Sanchez to undergo an “audit” by connect­ing herself to an “E-meter,” which Scientologists believe is a religious artifact. When employees did to follow this type of nutty behavior they were fired. As you can see this type of crazy behavior cost the company $170,000.

“We are pleased that we have been able to secure relief for all claimants and class members, and to ensure that policies are in place to prevent religious discrimination at DMS,” said EEOC attorney Robert Weisberg.

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Auto Dealership Pays $158,000 To Settle Discrimination Lawsuit

by Peter M. LaSorsa

Maita Chevrolet pays $158,000 to settle a religious discrimination lawsuit filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC“). According to published accounts Maita failed to accommodate the religious practice of a Seventh-day Adventist employee. Under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, employers must accommodate religious beliefs and actual practices of employees unless it would impose in undue hardship on the business. What is an undue hardship many times comes down to what a Judge says it is but there are enough cases out there for employers to know already what the standards are.

But in this case the business chose not to make the accommodation and instead harassed, disciplined and discharged the employee because of his religion. The employee was Anthony Okon, a Nigerian immigrant and a Seventh-day Adventist. He worked for the car dealership for roughly two-years. The main issue was that a key tenet of his faith is to observe the Sabbath by refraining from secular work from sundown Friday to sundown Saturday. However, the company scheduled him to work shifts during his Sabbath despite numerous requests from Okon and his pastor explaining the requirements of their religion. Okon ended up taking Saturday’s off and getting fired which resulted in the filing of this lawsuit and ultimately the settlement.

“The EEOC’s investigation found that Maita supervisors not only failed to accommodate Mr. Okon’s religious practice, but answered his requests with harassment, discipline, and ultimately discharge,” said EEOC attorney Attorney William R. Tamayo.

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Ozarks Electric Pays $95,000 To Settle Religious Discrimination Lawsuit

by Peter M. LaSorsa

Ozarks Electric pays $95,000 to a former employee to settle a religious discrimination lawsuit. The employment discrimination lawsuit was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC“) on behalf of the employee. According to published accounts Ozarks failed to provide an employee with a reasonable religious accommodation and then fired her because of her religious beliefs. Under the law, an employer must provide a reasonable accommodation based on someones religious beliefs. What is reasonable is determined by the Judge on a case-by-case basis.

In this case Ozarks denied the employee a requested day off to attend a Jehovah’s Witness convention and then terminated her when she chose to attend the convention rather than report to work. In this case what the company did is clearly a violation of the law. Asking for one day off for religious purposes would certainly be a valid and reasonable request. And you can see how much money this ended up costing the company. Better training on discrimination would help this company.

“Employees are faced with many choices throughout their careers, but having to choose between their religion and their work should never be one of those choices.” Said EEOC Attorney Faye Williams

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Burger King Franchise Settles Discrimination Lawsuit For $25,000

by Peter M. LaSorsa

Fries Restaurant Management, which operates numerous Burger King franchises pays $25,000 to a former employee to settle a religious discrimination lawsuit. The discrimination lawsuit was first filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC“). It is not uncommon for civil cases to settle prior to trial. Settlement allows both parties to control the outcome and not risk a decision by a jury. The problem for the company started when Ashanti McShan, a member of the Christian Pentecostal Church, adheres to an interpretation of the Scripture that women should wear skirts or dresses. When she applied for a job with the Burger King restaurant she let the interviewer know this and he agreed to her accommodation.

According to published accounts when McShan arrived for orientation, she was told by store management that the employer would not allow her to wear a skirt and that she had to leave the store. McShan tried to explain to store management that the skirt was an accommodation of her religious beliefs, but was again told that she could not work in the skirt. McShan said that when she subsequently attempted to contact higher management, her calls went unreturned. McShan, who was in her teens, was then discharged as a result of the accommodation denial.

“In this economic environment, it is hard enough for young people like Ms. McShan to secure jobs without the added hurdle of non-accommodation of religious beliefs.” said EEOC attorney Robert Canino

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Altec Industries Inc. Settles Discrimination Lawsuit For $25,000

by Peter M. LaSorsa

Altec Industries, Inc. pays $25,000 to settle a religious discrimination lawsuit. The discrimination lawsuit was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC“). Before you file a lawsuit in federal court you must file a complaint with the EEOC or in Illinois you can file with the Illinois Department of Human Rights (“IDHR“) and they will cross-file with the EEOC.

According to published accounts James Wright applied for employment at Altec’s manufacturing facility. As a Seventh-day Adventist, Wright held the sincere religious belief that he could not work on his Sabbath, which runs from sundown on Friday until sundown on Saturday. When Altec learned during a job interview that Wright objected to working from sundown on Friday to sundown on Saturday based on his religion, it decided not to hire him. You can’t make a hiring decision based on someone’s religious beliefs.

“An employer cannot refuse to hire an applicant to avoid making a religious accommodation.” said EEOC attorney Lynette A. Barnes.

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The Patty Tipton Company Settles Religious Discrimination Lawsuit

by Peter M. LaSorsa

The Patty Tipton Company settles a religious discrimination lawsuit for $5,000. The discrimination lawsuit was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC“) on behalf of Megan Woodard. The problem began when Woodard, a college student, applied for a job from the company. Woodard is a member of a fundamentalist Baptist church and the female members are not allowed to wear pants.

Woodard was denied the position due to her request for the religious accommodation not to wear pants. This is a violation of the law. An employer must make a reasonable accomodation based on someones valid religious beliefs. In this case wearing clothing other than pants would not have affected her job performance and was a reasonable request. Although the settlement was not large it sends a message.

“Discrimination because of a person’s religion is illegal and will not be tolerated.” “Employers should be on notice that the EEOC will act aggressively to protect people from this type of discrimination.” said EEOC attorney Laurie Young

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Magnetics International Settles Discrimination Lawsuit For $30,000

by Peter M. LaSorsa

Magnetics International, Inc. pays $30,000 to settle a religious discrimination lawsuit. The discrimination lawsuit was first filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC“) on behalf of Daniel Bewley. According to published accounts, the company was told Bewley could not work on consecutive Sunday’s because of his religious beliefs. This would seem to be a reasonable accommodation for the company to make. Under the law an employer must make a reasonable accommodation for someones religious beliefs. What is reasonable is a matter for the courts to decide if it gets that far but there is enough case law to give good guidance.

The problem arose when the company scheduled him to work a second consecutive Sunday and Bewley refused based on his religious beliefs and his prior notification to the company. In a troubling event the company forced Bewley to choose between working the scheduled Sunday shift and losing his job. He attended his church service on Sunday and the company fired him. This all could have been avoided if the company would have made the simple reasonable accommodation.

“Federal law is clear that employers must make a reasonable effort to accommodate sincerely-held religious beliefs,” said EEOC Attorney Laurie Young. “Doing so is the best way to avoid lawsuits like this.”

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Morningside House Settles Religious Discrimination Case For $25,000

by Peter M. LaSorsa

In an unusual case, Morningside House pays $25,000 to settle a religious discrimination lawsuit. This lawsuit was the result of a Muslin not removing her hijab and therefore not getting hired for the job. The lawsuit was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC“). This could have also been a lawsuit involving national origin discrimination because of the what company did, but because the hijab is part of a religious practice, it fell under religious discrimination. In Illinois you could also file with the Illinois Department of Human Rights (“IDHR“) for both national origin and religious discrimination.

According to published accounts the director of health and wellness asked Khadijah Salim if she would be willing to remove her hijab if she were hired. The director expressed concerns that if she were hired, the hijab may interfere with her ability to work as a certified nursing assistant. However, Salim said she had worn her hijab throughout her nursing training, which included working in the operating room, and it had never interfered with her ability to perform her duties. This would indicate that there wasn’t a problem with wearing the hijab. As you can guess she wasn’t hired and the discrimination lawsuit was filed. It seems to me there was a different issue involving her being a Muslim.

“In this case, there was no undue hardship to the employer — just an apparent overreaction to a reasonable request because of myths and stereotypes about a religion,” said EEOC Attorney Debra M. Lawrence.

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Best Western Settles Religious Discrimination Lawsuit For $365,000

by Peter M. LaSorsa

Hotel groups Pacific Hospitality and Seasons Hotel, which does business as Best Western Evergreen Inn and Best Western Tacoma Dome paid $365,000 to settle a religious discrimination lawsuit. The employment discrimination lawsuit was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC“) on behalf of a group of workers. According to published accounts the general manager persistently harassed and denigrated women, including those who were minorities and had strong religious beliefs. This type of activity resuled in a multiple count discrimination lawsuit based on racial discrimination, gender discrimination and religious discrimination.

A group of female employees were subjected to the constant use of racial slurs and derogatory sex-based and racial comments, yelling and physical intimidation. Things got even worse for on employee who had a stapler thrown at her head. I can’t believe this type of activity actually took place at a place of work. Another woman was told she was nothing but a welfare mother and should abort her pregnancy. There must have been some backward thinking people working at this hotel. To make matters worse the general manager also illegally fired five women after they revealed they were pregnant–which would be pregnancy discrmination.

“The women in this case were trying to support their families-to keep the lights on and put food on the table. Rather than being allowed to work, they were threatened, screamed at, subjected to sexist and racist slurs by upper management and had their religious beliefs belittled.” said EEOC attorney William R. Tamayo.

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