Christian Employee Discharged After Refusing to Work on Sunday, Federal Agency Charges
INDIANAPOLIS – Magnetics International, Inc. (Magnetics), a Pennsylvania corporation that supports steel mills by regenerating hydrochloric acid used in the steelmaking process, violated federal law by failing to accommodate an employee’s religious practices and by firing him because of his religion, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit it filed September 28, 2011.
According to the EEOC’s suit (Civil Action No. 2:11-cv-364), filed in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Indiana, Daniel Bewley notified Magnetics of a conflict between the schedule the company expected Bewley to work and Bewley’s religious practices, yet Magnetics fired Bewley instead of offering a reasonable accommodation.
Bewley was hired as a laborer at Magnetics’ Burn Harbor, Ind., facility. Before he accepted an offer of employment, he was told that he would not be required to work consecutive Sundays. When Magnetics scheduled him to work a second consecutive Sunday, Bewley reminded Magnetics of its commitment and informed Magnetics that he could not work because of his obligations to his church. Magnetics forced Bewley to choose between working the scheduled Sunday shift or losing his job, and ultimately terminated his employment.
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 requires employers to make reasonable accommodations to the sincerely held religious beliefs of employees as long as doing so poses no undue hardship. In its suit, the EEOC seeks back backpay, reinstatement, compensatory damages and punitive damages for Bewley, as well as injunctive relief. The EEOC filed suit after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.
“Employers are obligated to provide a religious accommodation unless they can show undue hardship,” said Laurie A. Young, EEOC regional attorney for the Indianapolis District Office. “An employee should not be forced to choose between his faith and his job. The EEOC remains committed in its fight against religious discrimination occurring in the workplace.”
The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about the EEOC is available on its web site at www.eeoc.gov.