UPS Pays JW Ex-employee $70,000

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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.

Reasonable accommodations can come in many forms, not just requests for time off on particular holidays. Other types of reasonable accommodations can include allowing religious attire at work and allowing employees to wear certain hairstyles or remain unshaven.

If an employer can prove that accommodating the worker’s religious requests would be too costly, compromises safety, or infringe on the rights of other workers, then the employer does not have to grant the request.

Advance notice by the worker should be given. This gives the employer time to make accommodations, and also an opportunity to reasonably ask for more information about the employee’s request.

More details can be found here:

http://www.eeoc.gov/laws/types/religion.cfm

http://eeoc.gov/eeoc/newsroom/release/11-4-13.cfm

http://blogs.findlaw.com/free_enterprise/2013/11/ups-settles-jehovahs-witness-suit-for-70k.html

Susannah

About Susannah

"Susannah," JWReport's News and Opinion Editor, is very familiar with the Watchtower Society and its leaders past and present. An experienced editor and writer, she was born and raised in the UK where she was an active Jehovah's Witness until she was 28. She now lives and works in southern Europe.

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