Telephone Company Discharged Employee Because of Sunday Morning Worship Requirement, Federal Agency Charged
ATLANTA – In a religious discrimination lawsuit filed today in U.S. District Court of Northern District of Georgia (Civil Action No. 4:10-cv-00152-HLM-WEJ), the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged that AT&T BellSouth unlawfully discriminated against an employee because of his religion.
According to the EEOC’s suit, AT&T violated federal law by terminating Mathew Martin rather than accommodating his belief as a member of the Church of Christ that he must attend Sunday morning worship. Martin was a premises technician at AT&T Bellsouth’s Dallas, Ga. office, responsible for the installation of the U-verse products, which include AT&T U-verse TV, High Speed Internet and AT&T U-verse Voice. The EEOC said that Martin was discharged when he requested not to be scheduled to work on Sundays from 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Martin attempted to explain to his employer that his religion required him to attend services on Sunday morning, the EEOC said, but AT&T refused to provide a reasonable accommodation and terminated him because he was unable to work Sunday mornings.
Religious discrimination violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which requires employers to make reasonable accommodations for employees’ and applicants’ sincerely held religious beliefs as long as this does not pose an undue hardship on the business. The EEOC filed suit after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. The EEOC is seeking back pay and compensatory and punitive damages for Martin. The lawsuit also seeks injunctive relief designed to stop and prevent future discrimination.
“Title VII protects employees from having to make the difficult choice between their religious beliefs and their employment,” said Robert Dawkins, regional attorney for the EEOC’s Atlanta District Office. “The EEOC is committed to enforcing anti-discrimination law and protecting the religious rights of employees.”
The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about the EEOC is available on the agency’s web site at www.eeoc.gov.