A Pittsburgh-based steel mill services company recently came to an agreement and settled a religious discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. The EEOC was pursuing a compliant made by a former employee of the company who said that he was fired after only two weeks of work because he was unable to work on Sundays for religious reasons.
The employee is Christian and had inquired about working on Sundays before he accepted the job. He told the company that he was unable to work on Sundays because of obligations at his church. When he was scheduled for a Sunday shift, he was forced to choose between his job and his religious obligations. He was wrongfully terminated less than two weeks after starting the job.
This case serves as a good example that religious discrimination can happen even to members of a majority group who are observing relatively common religious rituals. Discrimination claims depend on the motivation behind the action and in this case, whether the employer made a reasonable accommodation for a protected right to freedom of religion.
The settlement in this case included a fine and a consent decree requiring the company to take actions including improved training to prevent future religious discrimination. The company will also have to report to the EEOC about complaints and progress in the area of religious discrimination.
The EEOC has seen ha 9.5 percent rise in religious discrimination claims, many of which are attributed to perceived bias or discrimination against Muslims.
More information about religious discrimination claims for Pennsylvania residents is available on our employment law website.
Source: Business Insurance, "EEOC settles Magnetics International religious discrimination claim for $30,000," Judy Greenwald, August 16, 2012.