Morristown Employee Denied Sabbath Accommodation, Federal Agency Charged
NASHVILLE – Lowe’s Home Centers, Inc. will pay $120,000 and provide other relief in a settlement of a religious discrimination and retaliation lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency announced today.
The EEOC’s suit (Civil Action No. 2:10-cv-00063), filed in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Tennessee, charged that Lowe’s violated federal law when it refused to reasonably accommodate the sincerely held religious belief of an employee at its Morristown, Tenn.,store. The worker had requested being excused from working on the Christian Sabbath. Instead, the EEOC said, the company retaliated against him when it scheduled him to work on the Sabbath for 27 out of 28 weeks.
Refusing to provide a reasonable accommodation for a sincerely held religious belief, absent undue hardship, and retaliating against an employee who makes such a request violate Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The EEOC filed suit in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Tennessee after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through the conciliation process.
Besides providing monetary relief, the three-year consent decree signed by Senior District Judge Leon Jordan on September 20, 2011, enjoins Lowe’s from any future refusal to accommodate the sincerely held religious beliefs of its employees or retaliating against any employee for requesting a religious accommodation. The decree provides that Lowe’s will make an addendum to its human resource management guide. In addition, Lowe’s will provide employment discrimination awareness training to its store managers, assistant managers, and human resource managers in the East Tennessee area, and post a notice regarding the settlement.
The employee initially denied the reasonable accommodation now works in a position that does not require him to work on his Sabbath.
“This settlement ensures that this employee will continue to receive the accommodation he should have been granted to begin with, and that managers and human resource personnel understand heir obligations under the law,” said EEOC Regional Attorney Faye A. Williams.
The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about the EEOC is available on its web site at www.eeoc.gov.