DepositPhotos.comThe Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has recently filed suit in two cases alleging that employers violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 when they failed to accommodate holy day observance practices of employees.

The EEOC filed suit against grocery chain Food Lion alleging that the company improperly terminated Victaurius L. Bailey, a meat cutter, in 2011 after he refused to work on Sundays because of his beliefs as a Jehovah's Witness.

They also filed suit against Citi Brands, LLC, a franchisee of Dunkin' Donuts who revoked a job offer made to Darrell Littrell, a Seventh-day Adventist, because the job would have required Littrell to work between sundown on Friday and Saturday. The lawsuit, filed in the Western District of North Carolina's U.S. District Court, requests back pay, compensatory damages and punitive damages as well as as "injunctive and other non-monetary relief."

Under EEOC guidelines, employers are required to demonstrate that they have made a reasonable attempt to accommodate workers before refusing to accommodate their beliefs. The analysis is similar to what employers must follow when providing accommodation under the Americans with Disability Acts and employers must meet an "undue burden" standard as enunciated in the U.S. Supreme Court decision TWA v. Hardison. State-level religious accommodation standards may be higher, particularly in states that have implemented state-level versions of the Workplace Religious Freedom Act.

The EEOC has recovered on behalf of plaintiffs in several similar cases. Most recently in July 2014 the EEOC, in cooperation with the National Right to Work Foundation, won a federal settlement against the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) brought by Matthew Gray, a Seventh-day Adventist employee who had been transferred to a position where he would have to work Saturdays in alleged retaliation for leaving his labor union for religious reasons.

The Bail Bonds Phoenix reports that of 94,000 total complaints reported in 2013, nearly 4,000 involved religious discrimination or failure to accommodate.

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3 Comments

  1. orkidya says:

    Under EEOC it is illegal to discriminate someone because of that person's religion, race, sex, and color. Although it also points out that a person needs to follow there rules, but also depends who is running the business because family businesses are more independent. It is unconstitional that a store fires someone because there religious background. It should be against the law to teach they religion doesn't openly appear in politics. Therefore, a job can only take away someone's job if they don't meet their working conditions not because of there religious beliefs, that is why in the Bill of Right protect our civil liberties. Amendment one say the right to freedom of religion.

    • Pedro Fabian says:

      Amendment one protects the ability to have or lack a religion and the ability to express that religion, however that does not imply that a for profit company must accommodate their system of employment to your liking, nor provide you the ability to worship because it is not the company preventing you, it is your need for a job. In fact, revoking a job offer that would take away from a person's ability to worship a religion is actually accommodating for the person's religion. Vic­tau­rius L. Bai­ley should have ensured accommodations for his religion before he accepted the job and it was irresponsible of him to refuse to work on Sundays after already having been employed. If Corporations are people, as precedented by the Hobby Lobby court case, then in reality you are taking away their freedom to lack a religion and their freedom to not worship on the holy days of other religions. You state, "There­fore, a job can only take away someones job if they dont meet their work­ing con­di­tions not because of there reli­gious beliefs", but you fail to understand that they truly are taking their job because they can not meet their working conditions, if that is as a result of their religion, then so be it.

      • Brandon says:

        The store manager for Food Lion's Market did agree to accommodate Bailey's request to have Sundays off for religious services, however, when Bailey was transferred to work as a meat cutter in Kernersville, N.C., the store manager there told Bailey that he did not see how Bailey could work for Food Lion if he could not work on Sundays. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 requires employers to attempt to make reasonable accommodations to sincerely held religious beliefs. Bailey did receive reasonable accommodations with his first manager but the new one didn't attempt to make reasonable accommodations.

 
 
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