The EEOC continues to play an active role in either seeking to force settlements of religious discrimination claims on behalf of individual employees or directly filing such lawsuits against the employers of such individuals. In 2017, we saw almost 3,500 religious discrimination claims filed with the EEOC.
Two such similar cases in 2018 spotlight the EEOC’s ongoing focus in this area of employment law. In one such case, the EEOC helped facilitate a settlement of almost $100,000 on behalf of a dispatcher/customer service representative against his prospective logistics company employer. The individual was hired but later turned down for his position when the employer declined to allow him to move back his initial start date one day after he sought to celebrate the Jewish holiday Rosh Hashanah the previous day. The EEOC brought suit alleging the employer engaged in religious discrimination by failing to accommodate the religious schedule of the hired worker.
Following on the heels of the religious discrimination suit filed in 2016 by the EEOC against Mission Hospital in North Carolina (reported in our September 2017 newsletter (http://bdlfirm.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/11/01642772-1.pdf), the EEOC has filed a similar suit this year in Michigan federal court against another health care provider after it rescinded a job offer to an applicant who declined to receive an influenza shot or spray because of her religious beliefs. EEOC v. Memorial Healthcare, 2:18-CV-10523 (ED Mich 2/13/18). The company revoked its job offer to the hired employee despite her willingness to wear a mask which was an approved policy for employees who declined to be vaccinated.
Employers should be wary of turning down job applicants or revoking job offers to such individuals where their requested religious accommodation in scheduling or a job required activity would not be deemed an unreasonable request nor undue hardship upon for the employer to accommodate.