With the busy #construction season in full gear, many companies ask employees to work on weekends and nights. #HR What happens when an employee is asked to work a Saturday shift and he turns it down because he says his faith does not allow him to work on the Sabbath? A Greenville, NC ready mix concrete company recently agreed to pay a $42,500 settlement to an employee that refused to work on Saturday because he was a Seventh Day Adventist. The EEOC initiated legal action against Greenville Ready Mix Concrete for allegedly violating Title VII of the Civil Rights Act when it refused to accommodate the employee’s religious beliefs and then fired him.
What happened? The employee had worked at the company for 7 years as a truck driver. In February 2014, the employee was baptized as a Seventh-day Adventist. His faith required him to refrain from working for hire on Saturdays, specifically from sunset on Friday to sunset on Saturday, in observance of the Sabbath. The Company’s facilities were usually closed on Saturday and he was not normally scheduled to work on Saturday. About one month after the conversion to his new faith, the Company asked him to work on a Saturday. The employee refused to work and was later discharged.
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 requires employers to make reasonable accommodations to sincerely held religious beliefs of employees absent undue hardship (more than a minimal burden on the operations of the employer’s business). It does not matter that the employee had recently converted to a new religion, or that he had been able to work occasional Saturdays in the past. According to the EEOC, examples of some common religious accommodations include flexible scheduling, voluntary shift substitutions or swaps, job reassignments, and modifications to workplace policies or practices. An accommodation may cause undue hardship if it is costly, compromises workplace safety, decreases workplace efficiency, infringes on the rights of other employees, or requires other employees to do more than their share of potentially hazardous or burdensome work.
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