United Parcel Service (UPS) paid out $70,000 to a Jehovah’s Witness former employee to settle a religious discrimination case. According to the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) the company showed inflexibility about the employee’s work schedule and his subsequent termination constituted violations of the Civil Rights Act (CRA).
The CRA bars employers from discriminating against employees based on their religious convictions. It requires companies to reasonably accommodate workers’ religious practices as long as doing so does not pose an undue hardship upon the employer.
The former employee, Christopher Pompey, filed a discrimination claim in November 2012. He worked as a part-time truck loader at UPS’ Bergen County facility. In April 2011, not long after joining UPS, Pompey put in a request for a work schedule change so he could go to an annual “religious” event.
The EEOC said that when the request was turned down, Pompey, took the time off without sanction and a few days later he was fired.
Under the terms of a consent decree approved by U.S. District Judge Faith Hochberg, UPS agreed to pay Pompey $70,000 in damages and was required to make various commitments to prevent future incidents of religious discrimination. The company agreed to carry out anti-discrimination training for managers and supervisors and to put up notices letting employees know UPS’ religious accommodation policies.
The EEOC website notes:
“The law requires an employer or other covered entity to reasonably accommodate an employee’s religious beliefs or practices, unless doing so would cause more than a minimal burden on the operations of the employer’s business. This means an employer may be required to make reasonable adjustments to the work environment that will allow an employee to practice his or her religion.
Examples of some common religious accommodations include flexible scheduling, voluntary shift substitutions or swaps, job reassignments, and modifications to workplace policies or practices.”
The Blog “Find Law” makes some suggestions about what can be learned from this case.
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