Company Failed to Hire Seventh-day Adventist Due to His Refusal to Work on the Sabbath, Federal Agency Alleged
ASHEVILLE, N.C. - Altec Industries, Inc., a Birmingham, Ala. based manufacturing company, will pay $25,000 and furnish other relief to settle a religious discrimination lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency announced today.
According to the EEOC's suit, James Wright applied for employment at Altec's Burnsville, N.C., manufacturing facility. As a Seventh-day Adventist, Wright held the sincere religious belief that he could not work on his Sabbath, which runs from sundown on Friday until sundown on Saturday. The EEOC alleged in its complaint that when Altec learned during a job interview that Wright objected to working from sundown on Friday to sundown on Saturday based on his religion, it decided not to hire him.
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits employers from discriminating against individuals because of their religion at all stages of the employment process. Title VII requires employers to reasonably accommodate an employee's sincerely-held religious beliefs unless doing so would impose an undue hardship on the employer. The EEOC filed suit in U.S. District Court for the Western District of North Carolina (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. Altec Industries, Inc., Civil Action No. 1:10-CV-00216), after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through conciliation.
In addition to paying monetary relief to Wright, the settlement requires Altec to take other actions, including providing annual training on religious discrimination to all of its managers and supervisors at its Burnsville, N.C. facility. In addition, Altec must post a notice on employees' rights under federal anti-discrimination laws and provide periodic reports to the EEOC on individuals not hired and actions taken in response to employee requests for religious accommodations.
"An employer cannot refuse to hire an applicant to avoid making a religious accommodation," said Lynette A. Barnes, regional attorney for the EEOC's Charlotte District. "Where there is a conflict between a religious belief and work rules, the law mandates that employers make a sincere effort to accommodate those beliefs, including at the application stage. We are pleased that the settlement with Altec provides injunctive relief that will benefit all the company's employees and future applicants."
According to its web site, http://www.altec.com/, Altec Industries manufactures aerial lifts, cranes and specialty equipment for the electric utility and contractor markets.
The EEOC is responsible for enforcing federal laws prohibiting discrimination in employment. Further information about the EEOC is available on its web site at www.eeoc.gov.