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U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission



PRESS RELEASE
12-9-11

Whitehall Healthcare of Ann Arbor Sued By EEOC for Religious Discrimination

Nursing Home Fired Jehovah’s Witness Because of Her Need to Attend Religious Services, Federal Agency Charged

DETROIT — An Ann Arbor, Mich.,  nursing home violated federal law when it fired a Jehovah’s Witness based on  her religion and need for a religious accommodation, the U.S. Equal Employment  Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit it filed today.

According to the EEOC’s suit (Case  No. 2:11-cv-15407), filed in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of  Michigan, Whitehall Healthcare terminated the discrimination victim, a  Jehovah’s Witness from Ann Arbor, from her job as a certified nursing assistant  due to her need to have Wednesdays and Sundays off to attend religious  services.

Such alleged conduct violates Title  VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which protects employees against discrimination  based on religion and requires employers to provide employees with reasonable  accommodations to allow them to practice their sincerely held religious  beliefs. The EEOC filed suit after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation  settlement through its conciliation process.  The EEOC is seeking an injunction to prohibit the company from engaging  in this type of discrimination in the future, as well as monetary relief on the  behalf of the victim.

“An employer has a legal duty to  accommodate an employee's sincerely held religious beliefs, plain and simple,”  said Lauren Gibbs, trial attorney for the EEOC's Detroit Field Office. “Firing someone for asserting that right  violates federal law against religious discrimination and only makes a bad situation  worse.”

The EEOC  enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about the EEOC is  available on the agency’s website at www.eeoc.gov.