EEOC Takes Contractor to Court Over Firing of 7th-Day Adventist Who Sought Accommodation

This is religious discrimination 101. When an employee requests an accommodation to observe his religious beliefs, the employer must try to accommodate him or her unless doing so would be an undue hardship for the business.

Because it allegedly refused to accommodate a Seventh-Day Adventist,  Greenville Ready Mix Concrete, Inc., a North Carolina company based in Winterville, now finds itself a defendant in a Title VII lawsuit filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

According to the EEOC’s lawsuit–announced today-since 2007, Michael Cole worked as a truck driver, most recently at Greenville Ready Mix’s Winterville facility. In February 2014, Cole was baptized as a Seventh-day Adventist. Cole’s faith requires him to refrain from working for hire on Saturdays, specifically from sunset on Friday to sunset on Saturday, in observance of the Sabbath. Cole’s regular schedule did not include Saturday work. Shortly after his baptism, Cole asked the company to excuse him from working on Saturdays because of his religious beliefs. According to EEOC’s complaint, Greenville Ready Mix scheduled Cole to work on Saturday, March 22, 2014. When Cole notified the company that he could not work that day based on his religious beliefs, the company discharged him for that reason, EEOC said.

Employers need to ensure that their supervisors and managers who are called upon to make decisions on employees’ requests for religious accommodations are fully knowledgeable of the employer’s obligations under federal law,” said Lynette A. Barnes, regional attorney for EEOC’s Charlotte District Office. “Many decision makers seem to forget that, unless providing a reasonable accommodation would impose an undue hardship on the company, the accommodation must be provided. No person should ever be forced to choose between his religion and his job.”

Here’s the EEOC’s announcement of the lawsuit.

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