Article written for Law360, published on February 6, 2019.
In the past few months, we have seen three different cases of religious accommodation claims, with three very different results.
- In case one, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit affirmed dismissal of a U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission failure-to-hire case, on very narrow grounds.
- In case two, a Florida jury awarded a hotel kitchen employee $21.5 million, after she was terminated for refusing to work on her Sabbath.
- In case three, a federal judge in New York approved a $4.9 million settlement of a class action brought by the EEOC against United Parcel Service Inc., which involved claims that the company had not properly handled employee requests for religious accommodation, relaxing dress and uniform rules.
What do these cases tell us?
The obligation to accommodate employees’ religious beliefs and practices remains a critical concept for employers to understand, and a concept which the EEOC and the plaintiffs bar plainly take very seriously.
Employers must be careful in drafting and enforcing policies, and managers and human resources executives must be especially cautious when they say “no” to a request for a religious accommodation, and make sure that their denial is on solid legal footing.
To read the full Law360 article, click here.