Company Failed to Accommodate Jehovah's Witness's Request for Time Off for Religious Observance, Federal Agency Charged
NEWARK, N.J. - United Parcel Service, Inc. (UPS), the world's largest package delivery company, agreed to pay $70,000 and furnish significant injunctive relief to settle a religious accommodation lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency announced today.
According to the EEOC, the claimant was a Jehovah's Witness whom UPS hired as a part-time loader at its Saddle Brook, N.J. facility in April 2011. Shortly after his new-employee orientation with UPS the claimant made a request for a schedule change in order to attend an annual religious service. His supervisor denied the request for a schedule accommodation and the claimant was terminated from his job just a few days later. The EEOC contended that the refusal to grant the request for a schedule accommodation and the decision to terminate the claimant constituted religious discrimination. The lawsuit further alleged that after the claimant was terminated from his job, he was placed on a company-wide "do not rehire" list and was unable to get another job with UPS after re-applying elsewhere.
The EEOC charged that the hiring manager's actions violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which makes religious discrimination in the workplace illegal and requires reasonable accommodations for religious practices, absent an undue hardship to the employer. The EEOC's lawsuit (EEOC v. United Parcel Service, Inc., Civil Action No. 2:12-cv-07334) was brought in U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey and filed in Newark after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.
In addition to paying the $70,000 in damages to the claimant, UPS is enjoined discriminating against employees based on their religion, or from retaliating against employees for opposing such discrimination. The company has agreed to post its policy outlining the procedure for requesting a religious accommodation in conspicuous places throughout its Saddle Brook location, conduct anti-discrimination training for managers and supervisors, and discuss the policy with employees at the location during pre-work meetings.
"We are pleased that this resolution puts mechanisms in place to make it clear that employees are entitled to reasonable accommodation of their religious practices," said Elizabeth Grossman, regional attorney for the EEOC's New York District Office.
EEOC Trial Attorney Charles F. Coleman Jr. added, "Religious discrimination in the workplace cannot be tolerated. Businesses have a clear legal duty under federal law to handle requests for religious accommodations from their employees with due amounts of consideration."
The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about the EEOC is available on the agency's web site at http://www.eeoc.gov.