Employee Denied Accommodation for Her Sabbath, Federal Agency Charged
DURHAM , N.C. – Measurement, Inc., a Durham-based educational company, discriminated against a former employee by failing to accommodate her religious beliefs and then discharging her because of her religion, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit filed today.
According to the EEOC’s complaint, Jacqueline Dukes, who worked as a team leader in the scanning department at the company's Durham facility, is a member of a Christian denomination called Children of Yisrael. As such, Dukes observes her Sabbath from sunset on Friday until sunset on Saturday. The complaint alleges that in September 2008, Measurement told Dukes that starting in October, she would have to work on Saturdays on a new project. Dukes, who had previously informed the company that she could not work Saturdays because of her Sabbath, reminded Measurement officials that she observed her Sabbath on Saturday, and therefore could not work on Saturdays as requested. Around October 24, 2008, Measurement discharged Dukes.
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 requires employers to attempt to make reasonable accommodations to sincerely held religious beliefs of employees as long as this poses no undue hardship. The EEOC filed suit in U.S. District Court for the Middle District of North Carolina, Durham Division (EEOC v. Measurement, Inc., Civil Action No. 1:10-cv-00623 ) after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. The EEOC seeks back pay, reinstatement, compensatory damages and punitive damages for Dukes, as well as injunctive relief.
“In this case, the employer refused to allow Ms. Dukes a simple accommodation to enable her to practice her sincerely held religious belief and keep her job,” said Lynette A. Barnes, regional attorney for the EEOC’s Charlotte District, which includes the agency’s Raleigh Area Office, where the charge was filed. “For example, the EEOC contends that the company could have scheduled Ms. Dukes to be off on Saturdays or could have allowed her to switch shifts with another employee so that she could observe her Sabbath and yet continue her employment. This case demonstrates the EEOC’s commitment to fighting religious discrimination in the workplace.”
Measurement, Inc., headquartered in Durham, North Carolina is a full-service educational company that provides achievement tests and scoring services for state and local departments of education as well as private businesses. It has 13 offices in nine states and employs over 300 full-time employees and over 3,000 seasonal employees.
The EEOC is responsible for enforcing federal laws against employment discrimination. Further information is available at www.eeoc.gov.