Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Muslim Truck Driver Files Title VII Religious Discrimination Claim After Refusing to Deliver Alcohol Products

Upon receiving his right-to-sue letter from the EEOC, a former truck driver for Green Bay-based Schneider National, Inc., filed a claim pursuant to Title VII alleging religious discrimination, failure to accommodate religious beliefs and retaliation after he was told to resign or be fired for refusing to haul a load of Miller Lite.

A copy of the complaint is available here and Professor Eugene Volokh, a First Amendment scholar, offers his opinion on the matter here. Volokh notes:
An employer must give religious employees special exemptions from generally applicable job requirements if (1) the requirements interfere with an employee’s sincerely felt religious obligations and (2) such an exemption doesn’t impose “undue hardship on the conduct of the employer’s business.” 42 U.S.C. § 2000e(j); TWA v. Hardison, 432 U.S. 63 (1977).
Volokh believes the first requirement is met by the plaintiff but questions the second but cites several cases where Title VII does apply to religious exemptions to behavior that is a small part of one’s duties. The plaintiff's complaint states, "21. Upon information and belief, in June of 2009 less than 5% of the loads Defendant transported contained alcohol and/or tobacco." Thus, the Plaintiff is asserting that these loads could easily be delegated to a non-objector. Indeed, the complaint list an instance where this was done but two days later when told to transport alcohol again, he was told do it or resign.

It'll be interesting to see if the employer can show that this accommodation would be an undue hardship. The Plaintiff made its allegations based upon "information and belief" which means, "we're not 100% sure, but relatively certain." Then, as with most cases, it may settle before we get any answers.

1 comment:

  1. I wonder if this would even be a story if this guy were a Mormon, exceptionally conservative protestant, or a member of any other religious group that has a problem with alcohol. I doubt it.

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