Refusing to Hire Because of Sabbath Observance Still Illegal

The EEOC has reaffirmed what many Texas readers already know - it is illegal to refuse to hire someone because of their religious observances. Employers have an obligation to make reasonable accommodations for current or potential employee's religious observances, including scheduling flexibility for employees that observe a part of the week during which they cannot work. For people of many different faiths, this day is called the Sabbath, and it generally lasts from sundown to sundown one day per week.

The EEOC recently advocated on behalf an employee who was denied a job at a manufacturing company because of his Sabbath observance from Friday sundown until Saturday at sundown. As a Seventh Day Adventist the man is unable to work during that time period but was available for the rest of the week.

As a part of the settlement, the manufacturing company will pay the man for lost wages and implement better religious discrimination training to managers and supervisors. By including the training requirement as a part of the settlement, this case will help safeguard against future religious discrimination and hopefully end any discriminatory hiring practices that have gone unnoticed in the past.

It's important for Texas workers to remember that the Civil Rights Act of 1964 protects them from being treated differently in the hiring process or during employment for religious reasons. This can include issues such as scheduling (as in this case), dress codes, or other policies that affect religious observance. People who have been denied a job or have been fired because of a conflict between an employer policy and a religious observance may pursue a claim for religious discrimination.

Source: Workforce Management, "EEOC Settles Seventh Day Adventist Religious Discrimination Suit," Judy Greenwald, Jan. 2, 2012.