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U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission



PRESS RELEASE
2-11-10

EEOC Sues T.A. Loving Company For Religious Discrimination

Goldsboro, N.C., Company Fired Employees for Refusing to Work on Their Sabbath, Federal Agency Charged

RALEIGH,  N.C. –   T.A. Loving Company, a Goldsboro,  N.C., construction company,  violated federal law by denying a religious accommodation to several of its  employees and later firing them because of their religion, the U.S. Equal  Employment Opportunity Com­mis­sion (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit it filed today. 

According to the EEOC’s suit, Elvis  Cifuentes Angel worked for T.A. Loving Company as a day laborer.  Cifuentes and at least two other laborers who  worked with him are members of the Seventh-Day Adventist faith.  They all hold the sincere religious belief,  based on the tenets of their faith, that they cannot work on their Sabbath,  which runs from sundown on Friday until sundown on Saturday.  Cifuentes and his coworkers were discharged  when they refused to work on their Sabbath on Saturday, Sept. 22, 2007.  According to the complaint, T.A. Loving knew  that these workers' objections to working on that day was based on their  religion.

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act  of 1964 prohibits employers from discriminating against individuals because of  their religion and 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 seeks back  pay, compensatory damages and punitive damages for Cifuentes and the other  employees, as well as injunctive and other non-monetary relief. The EEOC filed  suit in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. T.A.  Loving Company Civil Action No. 5:10-cv-00054),  after first attempting to reach a voluntary settlement.

“Employers need to ensure that  their supervisors and managers who are called upon to make decisions on  employees' requests for religious accommodation are fully knowledgeable of the  employer's obligation under Title VII," said Lynette A. Barnes, regional  attorney for the 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 their religion and their job.”

The EEOC is responsible for enforcing federal  laws against employment discrimination.   Further information is available at www.eeoc.gov.