Steel Company Coughs Up $150K to Settle EEOC Title VII Suit Filed on Nazarite Applicant’s Behalf

If only an employer hadn’t insisted that a job applicant remove a lock of hair for drug testing–although his religion forbade him from doing so–it might have avoided entanglement with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

Instead, the company is out $150,000 to make the ensuing lawsuit go away.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission charged U.S. Steel Tubular Products, Inc. (USSTP), a subsidiary of United States Steel Corporation, with violating Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act by revoking a worker’s job offer because of his religion and in retaliation for insisting that his religious practices be accommodated.

According to the EEOC’s suit, Stephen Fasuyi applied for a utility technician position in November 2011 at a facility in Houston and received an oral employment offer. The job offer was contingent upon his successful completion of a pre-employment drug test. Fasuyi belongs to the Nazirite sect of the Hebrew Israelite faith, and he sincerely believes that the Old Testament forbids him from cutting hair from his scalp. During a hair follicle drug test the same day he received a job offer, he declined to have a lock of his hair cut starting at the scalp, but he offered alternatives, such as pulling hair from his beard, which seemed consistent with the drug test protocol. Fasuyi nevertheless was instructed to go home without the examination being completed, and was denied the opportunity to re-test on a different date.

Fasuyi subsequently applied for other vacancies at USSTP, including another utility technician position for which he initially was scheduled for an interview, only to have the interview later canceled by the company.

The EEOC contended that Fasuyi’s religious beliefs should have been accommodated during the pre-employment testing, and that USSTP ultimately denied him employment because of his religion and in retaliation for his opposing what he believed to be religious discrimination.

Under the terms of a two-year consent decree settling the case, USSTP will pay $150,000 in monetary relief and has agreed to other relief in resolving this matter.

“We are pleased to have reached what we believe to be a fair resolution, and are confident that USSTP is committed to considering accommodation requests from job applicants of faith,” said EEOC Houston District Regional Attorney Rudy Sustaita.

The EEOC announced the settlement on April 10.

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