Showing posts with label religious discrimination. Show all posts
Showing posts with label religious discrimination. Show all posts

Tuesday, June 4, 2019

Proposed law wants to convert “anti-vaxxer” into a protected class

With a couple of important exceptions, an employer can require that employees be up to date on their vaccinations.

The exceptions?

     1/ An employee with an ADA disability that prevents him or her from receiving a vaccine may be entitled to an exemption from a mandatory vaccination requirement as a reasonable accommodation.

     2/ An employee with a sincerely held religious belief, practice, or observance that prevents him or her from receiving a vaccine may also be entitled to an exemption from a mandatory vaccination requirement as a reasonable accommodation.

Thursday, January 17, 2019

An expensive lesson on religious accommodations

A federal court jury in Miami has awarded a hotel dishwasher $21.5 million after concluding that her employer failed to honor her religious beliefs by repeatedly scheduling her on Sundays, and then firing her.

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

When you employ a Satanist #HappyHalloween

Rosemary's Baby, the classic 1968 horror film, tells the story of a pregnant woman who (spoiler alert: correctly) assumes that a satanic cult wants her baby. What does Rosemary's Baby have to do with employment law?

In honor of Halloween, I bring you the story of Irving Cortez-Hernandez, a "Catholic-Satanist" who prayed to the Devil for his pregnant co-worker to miscarry, and as a result lost both his job and his religious discrimination lawsuit.

Monday, October 29, 2018

Anti-Semitism at work

The devastating events of this past weekend served as a sobering reminder that anti-Semitism not only still exists, but it's thriving.

The reality is that anti-Semitism never went away. It has always been there, bubbling under the surface. The current climate in our country, however, has given it permission to boil over.

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

"I'm going to need every Saturday off; is that gonna be a problem?"

Darrell Patterson had worked in Walgreens' 24/7 call center for six years without incident. He claims Walgreens fired him for skipping an emergency training session held on a Saturday. He's a Seventh-day Adventist, and it's against his religion to work on the Sabbath (from sundown Friday through downs Saturday). Until his firing, they had worked cooperatively to schedule around this religious prohibitions, without incident.

Patterson's religion and Walgreens' scheduling came to a head in 2011, however, when Walgreens asked Patterson to cover an emergency Saturday training session. When he missed the training class, Walgreens fired him.

Monday, August 20, 2018

EEOC sues on behalf of harassed Catholic employee

Religion a funny thing. Throughout the history of mankind it's fueled so much hate, war, and death. And yet, it brings so much peace, comfort, and love to so many people.

My philosophy is live and let live. You believe what you want, and I'll believe what I want. Your religion is none of my business, just as mine is none of yours.

The world we be a better place is everyone lived this message. But not everyone does.

Monday, August 6, 2018

On religious liberty vs. workplace discrimination laws

Last week, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced the creation of a "Religious Liberty Task Force" It will enforce a 2017 DOJ memo that ordered federal agencies to take the broadest possible interpretation of "religious liberty" when enforcing federal laws, including Title VII and other anti-discrimination laws.

According to Mr. Sessions, the task force as a necessary to "confront and defeat" secularism, "a dangerous movement, undetected by many, is now challenging and eroding our great tradition of religious freedom."

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

5.1 millions reason to keep religion out of your workplace

I’m thinking of starting a religion
“Onionhead” teaches people to direct their emotions in a truthful and compassionate way. It is central to the teachings of the Harnessing Happiness Foundation, a 501c3 nonprofit organization dedicated to emotional knowledge and intelligence, conflict resolution, and life handling skills.

Onionhead is also central to a religious discrimination lawsuit brought by the EEOC against United Health Programs of America and its parent, Cost Containment Group. The aunt of the defendants’ CEO is the creator of Onionhead.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Tattoos at work: more acceptance, yet still some legal risk

By ABC TV [Public domain],
via Wikimedia Commons
I am not a tattoo person. Yet, a whole lot of people are. And the numbers are increasing.

In fact, according to one recent survey, 3 in 10 Americans have at least one tattoo, up 50% in just four years. And, the younger you are, the more likely you are to sport a tattoo: 47% of millennials have a tattoo, as compared to 36% of gen Xers and only 13% of baby boomers.

Monday, February 12, 2018

What does it mean to be religious?

Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about religion. Or, rather, what it means to be religious.

I am not religious. Or at least not in the organized sense.

This does not mean that I am an atheist, or a pagan, or a heathen, or whatever other aspersion you’d like to cast upon me.

It just means that I do not believe I need a building and a structure upon which to ascribe my beliefs.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Accommodating employees should be a common sense issue

I spent a high-school summer working on a warehouse loading dock. One of my co-workers was named Harland Jester. (I provide his name because he named his son “Court,” and this context provides the necessary color for the rest of the story.)

Four days in to my summer job, a co-worker pulled me aside and ask, “Did Harland get a hold of you yet?”

“Uh, no. Why?”

“Just wait.”

Monday, July 24, 2017

Court rules that religious accommodation request is not protected activity for retaliation claim

A Minnesota federal court has ruled that an employee’s request for a religious accommodation did not qualify as protected activity to support the employee’s retaliation claim. EEOC v. North Memorial Health Care (D. Minn. 7/6/17) involves a hospital that withdrew a conditional job offer to a nurse after she disclosed that she was a Seventh Day Adventist and could not work Friday nights because of her religion.

Monday, January 30, 2017

Trump’s un-American travel ban and the workplace

I’ve had an internal debate all weekend long over whether I should blog about Trump’s executive order that that bans immigration from seven Muslim countries, suspends refugees for 120 days, and bars all Syrian refugees indefinitely. Ultimately, I decided that if you are not part of the solution you are part of the problem, and this issue is too important to remain silent. I choose to be on the correct side of history.

If you are a staunch defender of the President who does not care to read an opposing view, I suggest you stop reading now, and come back tomorrow for a more benign post. Or, better yet, post a comment and let’s have an intelligent debate about this issue. And, if you choose to unfollow or unfriend me because of my opinion, you are more than welcome to do that too. This is still America, and I respect your right to have an opinion even if I disagree with it. I hope, however, that you show me and my opinion the same respect and patriotism that I would show you and yours.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Mandatory flu shots cost employer bigly

You may recall that in September I reported on a lawsuit the EEOC filed against a Pennsylvania hospital, alleging that it unlawfully fired six employees after denying their request for a religious exemption from the flu vaccine.

How did that case turn out for the employer? Not well. From the EEOC:

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Can you require flu shots for your employees?

As the calendar winds its way into autumn, and as the temperature starts to trend downward, we move into flu season. Which is why should pay special attention to this story from Employment Law 360:

Monday, August 29, 2016

An anniversary love story

Thirteen years ago today I married my best friend. I’m happy to report that the thunderstorms that rocked Cleveland on August 29, 2003, were not of the foreshadowing kind. It hasn’t been perfect. No marriage is. But every day is better because I get to experience it holding Colleen’s hand. And that makes us very, very lucky.

So, I thought I’d re-run a post from four years ago today. Enjoy.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

EEOC offers guidance for Youth@Work

Do you employee minors? If so, you should be aware of the wage-and-hour laws for child labor. The Department of Labor, however, isn’t the only federal agency taking a look at your under-18 employees. Recently, the EEOC launched an entire portal devoted to the issue.

The microsite, entitled Youth@Work, is the agency’s education and outreach campaign to promote equal employment opportunity for teenage workers.

Monday, December 7, 2015

Can you legally deck the workplace halls?

star2012The holiday season is in full swing. Gifts are flying off the shelves, FedEx is delivering too many Amazon-logoed boxes to count, and lights, trees, and wreaths are everywhere.

What about the workplace? Can you legally decorate for the holidays at work? And, if you do, does the law require that you accommodate all religions in your holiday displays? The answer might surprise you.

Monday, November 16, 2015

We stand with France; we stand against discrimination

Photo by Jon Hyman, 8/6/15

What happened Friday evening in France is unfathomable. Except, really, it isn’t. We experienced it 15 years ago in New York City. And, in the aftermath of 9/11, discrimination against Muslims and Arabs increased by 250 percent.

From the EEOC:

Monday, September 14, 2015

Time off for religious holidays

Today is Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, which means that many Jewish employees are taking the day off. Is an employer obligated, however, to grant a request for time off when requested for a religious observance?

Title VII requires an employer to reasonably accommodate an employee whose sincerely held religious belief, practice, or observance conflicts with a work requirement, unless doing so would pose an undue hardship. An accommodation would pose an undue hardship if it would cause more than de minimis cost on the operation of the employer’s business. Factors relevant to undue hardship may include the type of workplace, the nature of the employee’s duties, the identifiable cost of the accommodation in relation to the size and operating costs of the employer, and the number of employees who will in fact need a particular accommodation.

Scheduling changes, voluntary substitutions, and shift swaps are all common accommodations for employees who need time off from work for a religious practice. It is typically considered an undue hardship to impose these changes on employees involuntarily. However, the reasonable accommodation requirement can often be satisfied without undue hardship where a volunteer with substantially similar qualifications is available to cover, either for a single absence or for an extended period of time.

In other words, permitting Jewish employees a day off for Rosh Hashanah, and next week for Yom Kippur, may impose an undue hardship, depending on the nature of the work performed, the employee’s duties, and how many employees will need the time off. Employees can agree to move shifts around to cover for those who need the days off, but employers cannot force such scheduling changes.

In plain English, there might be ways around granting a day or two off for a Jewish employee to observe the holidays, but do you want to risk the inevitable lawsuit? For example, it will be difficult to assert that a day off creates an undue hardship if you have a history of permitting days off for medical or other reasons.

Legalities aside, however, this issue asks a larger question. What kind of employer do you want to be? Do you want to be a company that promotes tolerance or fosters exclusion? The former will help create the type of environment that not only mitigates against religious discrimination, but spills over into the type of behavior that helps prevent unlawful harassment and other liability issues.