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.