Monday, December 10, 2012

EEOC Files Suite Against UPS for Firing Jehovah's Witness Over His Request to Attend Annual Service

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) recently filed a lawsuit against package delivery company, United Parcel Service (UPS), alleging it violated Title VII when an employee at their Saddlebrook, New Jersey facility was terminated because of his request to attend an annual Jehovah's Witness service.  

From the EEOC press release on the lawsuit: 

According to the EEOC's suit, UPS failed to accommodate the  request of a newly hired truck loader at its Saddle Brook, N.J. facility to  modify his schedule so that he could attend the Memorial of Christ's Death, an  annual religious service, pursuant to his beliefs as a Jehovah's Witness.  The employee requested that he either start a  different day, start later than his scheduled time on his start date, or be  given an hour's leave during his shift to attend the ceremony and return to  work.  UPS denied his request, the EEOC  said, requiring that he report to work as scheduled, and told him this was  non-negotiable.  When the employee  refused to compromise his religious beliefs and attended the Memorial instead of  reporting to work, UPS fired him.  UPS  also assigned him a "do not hire" status, and refused to hire him when he  applied for a different position at UPS's Staten Island facility.
This alleged conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights  Act of 1964.  The EEOC filed the lawsuit  in the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey (Civil Action No.: 2:12-CV-07334)  after first attempting to reach a voluntary settlement out of court.
Religious accommodations are similar to accommodations made for disabilities.  They are not automatically granted and are only disallowed if the employer can prove the accommodation would prove to be an "undue hardship."   

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