Tuesday, June 26, 2012

EEOC Sues Lighting Company For Failure to Hire Applicant Over Religious Beliefs

In a case of all the terribly wrong things to ask in a job interview, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has filed suit against Voss Lighting, a  Lincoln, Nebraska-based supplier of lighting products, when it did not hire an applicant for a supervisory position allegedly over the applicant's responses to the employer's heavy religious questions during an interview.

Religious discrimination claims are relatively rare and Voss' actions are incredibly bizarre, as alleged.  From the EEOC press release on the suit (EEOC v. Voss Electric Company d/b/a Voss Lighting, Civil Case No.: 12-CV-330-JHP-FHM):

Throughout the application process, both managers made numerous inquiries, both subtle and overt, into Wolfe’s religious activities and beliefs. They asked Wolfe to identify every church he has attended over the past several years; where and when he was “saved” and the circumstances that led up to it; and whether he “would have a problem” coming into work early to attend Bible study before clocking in.

At Wolfe’s second job interview, the EEOC said, Voss’s branch manager became upset over Wolfe’s truthful responses to the religious questioning. Despite being considered qualified for the position, which involved no religious duties or responsibilities, Wolfe was denied employment on the basis of his religious beliefs.

Apparently Voss Lighting has a highly-religious culture that requires employees adhere to certain religious beliefs that have absolutely no bearing on the business of selling lighting products.  Pre-litigation settlement efforts failed so suit was filed.  It'll be interesting to see the outcome if it reaches a jury!

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