Can’t work Rosh Hashanah? No job for you!
Shortly after an employer hired an employee, the manager called the new employee and told him to report to work on Oct. 3, 2016. The new employee advised that he could not start on that date because he celebrated the Jewish holiday, Rosh Hashanah, on that date. The manager replied that he thought it would be acceptable for the employee to start on Oct. 4. Later that evening, however, the company vice president called and told the new employee he must report to work on Oct. 3 and told the employee that the company only honored federal holidays, and that if he gave the employee a religious accommodation, he would have to extend them to other employees.
The employee did not report to work on Oct. 3 due to his mandatory religious observance. When he reported to work on Oct. 4, he was sent home.
The employee filed a charge of discrimination with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) claiming the employer’s rescission of its job offer was religious discrimination, in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Not only did the EEOC believe that the employer violated the law, it actually sued the employer on the employee’s behalf, claiming the employer violated federal law when it revoked its offer of employment because the employee was unable to work on Rosh Hashanah.
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits discrimination based on religion and requires employers to reasonably accommodate an applicant or employee’s sincerely held religious beliefs unless it would pose an undue hardship. The above “facts” are taken from the EEOC’s lawsuit (EEOC v. XPO Last Mile, Inc., Civil Action No. 1:17-cv-01342-JKB), which was announced on May 16, 2017. The EEOC is seeking back pay, reinstatement, compensatory damages and punitive damages, as well as injunctive relief.
An EEOC spokesman announced that the employer’s “intransigent refusal to provide a religious accommodation cost them the services of a hard worker and led to this lawsuit.”
Florida businesses are reminded that a one-day postponement of a start date is probably not an undue hardship.
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