EEOC Settlement Reminds Employers in New Jersey and Across U.S. to Refrain from Unlawful Religious Discrimination

1346003_bible_collage_4 sxchu username ba1969.jpgThe United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has agreed to settle a religious discrimination complaint filed against the owners of a hotel chain for $45,000. According to the EEOC, the Comfort Inn Oceanfront South in Nags Head, North Carolina refused to honor an employee’s request not to work on her Sabbath. Although the employee’s religious accommodation was initially honored, a new management team allegedly began requiring the woman, who is a practicing Seventh-Day Adventist, to work on Saturdays. After the worker refused to work on her Sabbath, her employment was purportedly terminated.

The EEOC filed a lawsuit against the hotel chain under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which forbids religious discrimination. As part of the settlement agreement, the hotel chain agreed to pay the terminated employee $45,000, implement new operating policies designed to protect workers from religious discrimination, and provide employees with anti-discrimination and anti-retaliation training. In addition, the hotel owners agreed to provide the EEOC with information related to any religious accommodation requests received in the future.

Regional Attorney for the EEOC’s Charlotte District Office, Lynette A. Barnes, stated no worker should be required to choose between employment and religion. Barnes added that employers have an obligation to accommodate the religious needs of employees where there is little impact on the conduct of their business.

Employers in New Jersey are required to make reasonable accommodations for workers with regard to religious holidays and other needs. Generally, discrimination has occurred if an employer fails to make religious accommodations that do not have a major impact on business operations. Employees have a right under both state and federal law to sue for damages if they were discriminated against. In order to recover damages for discrimination, however, workers must be part of a group that is protected by statute. Employees who were discriminated against based upon their religion, age, gender, pregnancy status, race, military status, disability, and more may have a discrimination claim against an employer.

In many cases, employers discriminate against protected classes of individuals by refusing to hire, demoting, terminating, or harassing them. In 2011, the EEOC reportedly filed nearly 2,000 employment lawsuits in New Jersey. Of those, 89 cases involved religious discrimination. If you were the victim of religious or other discrimination in the workplace, you should contact a quality employment attorney to discuss your rights.

The caring employment lawyers at the Resnick Law Group represent current and former employees in legal matters that involve harassment and discrimination at work in both New Jersey and New York. To discuss your case with a knowledgeable advocate, do not hesitate to contact the Resnick Law Group through our website or give us a call at 973-781-1204 or 646-867-7997.

More Blog Posts:

EEOC Settles Sexual Harassment and Retaliation Claim Against Long Island Church and Diocese, The New Jersey Employment Law Firm Blog, July 19, 2013
American Medical Association’s Decision to Label Obesity a Disease May Affect Disability Claims in in New York and Nationwide, The New Jersey Employment Law Firm Blog, July 16, 2013
Additional Resources:

Nags Head Hotel to Pay $45,000 to Settle EEOC Religious Discrimination Lawsuit, U.S. Equal Opportunity Commission Press Release dated July 23, 2013

Photo credit: ba1969, Stock.xchng

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