Author: Stephen D. Hans
What If an Employee Can’t Work the Schedule the Employer Wants?
In many situations, a schedule conflict is a reason not to hire a prospective employee. However, when the employee’s religion is the reason for the schedule conflict, you must be careful not to violate discrimination laws.
In 2014, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) brought a religious discrimination lawsuit against a Dunkin’ Donuts franchisee on behalf of Darrell Litrell. Litrell applied for a baker position, was hired and told he would start on a Friday afternoon. He informed the manager that because of his faith as a Seventh-day Adventist, his Sabbath began Friday at sundown and lasted until sundown on Saturday. For this reason, he couldn’t start the job on a Friday afternoon. Subsequently, the manager revoked the job offer.
Litrell sought recourse from the EEOC, which took his case. The franchisee failed to reach a pre-litigation settlement with the EEOC through the conciliation process, and consequently, the case went to trial. The U.S. District Court for the Western District of North Carolina found in favor of the EEOC, ruling that the prospective employee’s rights had been violated under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
The court’s ruling against Dunkin’ Donuts included:
- Paying $22,000 to Litrell in damages
- An injunctive relief prohibiting the company from future religious discrimination as part of a five-year consent decree
- Implementation of a policy to address religious discrimination
- Annual training for all employees
- Required reporting of all religious accommodation requests to the EEOC
- Posting of its religious accommodation policy in all its North Carolina restaurants and facilities
When you have issues that arise with employees regarding potential discrimination, seek legal counsel as soon as possible. Stephen Hans & Associates has decades of legal experience defending employer’s rights in employment disputes and often works to help businesses avoid such issues in the first place.