Company Refused to Hire Applicant Because of His Religion, Federal Agency Charged
ASHEVILLE, N.C. - Citi Brands, LLC, a franchisee of Dunkin' Donuts, violated federal law by refusing to hire a job applicant who is a Seventh-day Adventist because of his religion, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit it filed today.
According to the EEOC, Darrell Littrell is a Seventh-day Adventist who holds the sincere religious belief that he cannot work on his Sabbath, which runs from sunset on Friday until sunset on Saturday. Around Dec. 15, 2012, Littrell applied for the position of a donut maker at the Citi Brands' manufacturing facility in Arden, N.C., and was later interviewed by the company's plant manager. The EEOC said that on Jan. 3, 2013, the plant manager offered Littrell the donut maker position, and told Littrell he would start work the next afternoon, a Friday, at 3 pm. Littrell responded that he could not start work on Friday afternoon because as part of his faith, he does not work from sunset on Friday until sunset on Saturday. The plant manager responded by revoking Littrell's job offer. The EEOC also charged that Citi Brands violated federal law by failing to preserve certain employment records as required by law.
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits employers from refusing to hire people because of their religion, and requires employers to make an effort at a reasonable accommodation for sincerely held religious beliefs. The EEOC filed suit in U.S. District Court for the Western District of North Carolina, Asheville Division (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. Citi Brands, LLC d/b/a Dunkin' Donuts Bakery, Civil Action No. 1:13-CV-00236) after first attempting to reach a voluntary settlement through its administrative conciliation process. The complaint seeks back pay, compensatory damages and punitive damages for Littrell, as well as injunctive and other non-monetary relief.
"Employers should be mindful that it is against the law to discriminate against an applicant or an employee based on his religion, including the observance of the Sabbath," said Lynette A. Barnes, regional attorney for the EEOC's Charlotte District.
The EEOC is responsible for enforcing federal laws prohibiting discrimination in employment. Further information about the EEOC is available on its web site at www.eeoc.gov.