Articles Posted in religious discrimination

A construction worker in Oregon has filed an employment lawsuit alleging religious discrimination and retaliation after he was fired for refusing to attend a mandatory weekly Christian Bible study.religious discrimination

The 34-year-old Native American said he expressed to his boss/ the business owner discomfort about going to the Bible study and even indicated it was probably illegal, but was told it was a condition of employment for which he would be paid. Although he still wasn’t comfortable with it, as a convicted felony, he badly needed the job and didn’t want to lose it. So he attended the once-weekly hour-long session, conducted by a Christian pastor. He did this for several months, but then finally said he could no longer stomach it and stopped going. He was fired soon thereafter.

In filing his religious discrimination employment lawsuit, plaintiff’s attorney said the case is clear-cut: A non-religious employer can’t require employees to go to a Bible study – paid or otherwise. It can be offered as a voluntary option, but it can’t be mandated as a condition of employment and employers can’t retaliate against workers who choose not to go. The attorney representing defendant business owner, meanwhile, asserts the requirement was not unlawful for at-will employees who were paid to go and it was considered part of their job. Further, defense attorney insists plaintiff wasn’t fired, but rather was an on-call employee who simply found other work while he was still on-call for the defendant.  Continue reading

The question of religious liberties in schools is being pushed to the limits with a recent case out of the state of religious discriminationWashington. A former assistant coach at high school just outside of Seattle lost his job after he was asked to stop praying after football games on the field and he refused. He is now seeking help from the Supreme Court to overturn the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals‘s rejection of his appeal earlier this year. Plaintiff claims his religious and personal rights have been infringed upon by the district, according to Seattle Times.

The question boils down to where the line is for the personal rights of school employees when in the presence of students. It is well known that in public schools, school-sponsored prayer is not allowed, nor is the teaching of a religion. This would be a violation of the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, which prevents the passage of any law that would establish a religion. Schools are funded by tax dollars, making school employees government workers who are accountable to holding up constitutional liberties. Teaching about religions in general and their place in history is allowed. It is less clear, however, the ways in which public servants, including teachers, are allowed to express their personal religious beliefs.

The Supreme Court has addressed prayer in schools many times over. In 1962, the historic case of Engel v. Vitale arose when parents objected to prayer recitation at the beginning of the school day, even though it was voluntary. The court determined such a practice was unconstitutional because a state official was deciding on a religious message to share with students and encouraging its recitation. In 2000, the court ruled 6-3 in Santa Fe Independent School District v. Doe that prayer before a football game, even if led by students, was still the imposition of a religion at a school event in such a way that students who do not practice that religion would feel coerced into participation as a result of social pressures. Where, then, is the line between personal free speech and the enactment of a certain religion when it comes to students and teachers?

Continue reading

wrongful terminationTwo cheerleaders have filed lawsuits against the National Football League for what they say was wrongful termination, discrimination and harassment. One cheerleader for the New Orleans Saints was dismissed after she posted a bathing suit photo of herself online, and another for the Miami Dolphins left after she was allegedly harassed for publicly discussing her choice to remain abstinent until marriage.

What do they most hope to get out of the lawsuits? Change.

In a surprise turn of events, their attorney recently offered to drop the lawsuits in exchange for a $1 settlement and a face-to-face talk with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, according to an article from The Nation. They want a good faith conversation about how to set clear guidelines going forward that are fair to all employees. The two plaintiffs have very different stories that they allege concluded with the same result: discrimination and loss of their dream jobs. Continue reading

Federal law protects the right to practice your religion as you see fit, with Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits employers from discriminating against an employee for their religious beliefs, as well as race, color, sex, or national origin. Employers must also provide reasonable accommodations for employees to practice their religion “unless an employer demonstrates that he is unable to reasonably accommodate to an employee’s or prospective employee’s religious observance or practice without undue hardship.”religious discrimination

However, this is not the only way religion can affect the work place. Take for example a recent lawsuit in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York in which a discount medical plan provider and its parent company were recently ordered to pay 10 former employees a sum of $5.1 million, after plaintiffs claimed management within the company wanted them to participate in specific religious practices and allegedly retaliated against them when they refused, according to Newsday. Continue reading

Many companies have employment policies in place to help separate people’s personal lives from the workplace. Limiting personal calls, restricting social media use onemployment attorneys company computers, forbidding offensive materials from being displayed in work spaces and not allowing company resources to be used for personal gain or to spread personal messages — all of these are common practices. It is permissible and necessary for offices to limit such activities to keep workers focused, reduce wasteful spending, and prevent a hostile work environment.

However, problems can arise when managers selectively choose who can and cannot engage in such activities, with only certain people being punished. At best, a company can cause resentment among employees by singling out individuals for actions that are also being committed by others. At worst, they could find themselves in court for violating the First Amendment.

This is in line with the perspective of the Washington Supreme Court, where justices recently filed an opinion in the case against the fire department in eastern Washington. The court determined that a former fire captain, who was terminated after sending religious messages using a company forum, was denied his First Amendment rights to free speech and can sue for damages. Continue reading

Our employment lawyers know how important it is for companies to have both strong anti-discrimination policies Employee Discriminationand enforcement of those policies. Not only are acts of discrimination against protected groups illegal, but they are also just plain bad business. Everyone wants to feel safe going to work, and no one wants to feel like they have to choose between their income and the values they hold sacred.

Disney is one company under scrutiny after a former employee of Walt Disney World in Florida filed a lawsuit (Sebti v. Walt Disney Parks and Resorts U.S. Inc.) in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida alleging he was discriminated against for his nationality.

The employee alleges he once found a noose made of duct tape in his office. He also allegedly was not allowed breaks for prayer during Ramadan. Plaintiff further says he was unfairly passed up for promotions and that the actions against him were a response to his Moroccan nationality. Continue reading

Religious discrimination is sadly common in today’s workforce. What is surprising to learn is the shocking statements that are made, and the blatant manner in which some employees still face religious discrimination in the workplace. Both California and federal law protect workers’ rights to a workplace free of such harassment.religious discrimination attorneys Continue reading

A company that contracts to provide passenger wheelchair assistance at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York City is being accused of religious discrimination. The charge comes from the New York City Human Rights Commission, which says the company, which offers services to 32 airlines and employs some 250 workers at Terminal 4, violated worker rights by not allowing them breaks during which to pray during daily prayers or to eat after fasting for Ramadan.airport

According to USA Today, supervisors reportedly harassed workers who follow Islam via a radio system whenever the employees requested prayer time breaks. Those messages were reportedly spiteful and included statements like, “We don’t care about Ramadan” and assertions that workers would be given breaks at company-designated times, not worker-designated times.

If the allegations are proven, they would carry a maximum civil penalty of $250,000, on top of compensatory damages that might be paid to workers. The deputy commissioner of the city’s law enforcement bureau that religious discrimination will not be tolerated and that employees of every faith have the right to ask for religious accommodations. Further, no worker should be harassed or otherwise discriminated against for asking to have a break during which to adhere to observance of their faith.  Continue reading

Observance of some religious tenants are more visible than others, but none are legally allowed to be used as a basis upon which to deny employment or career advancement. But that’s exactly what is alleged to have happened to a Sikh doctor who alleges a medical organization denied him employment due to his religious appearance.doctor

Plaintiff is a licensed and board-certified physician practicing neurology in Kentucky. He is an observant Sikh who keeps the religiously-mandated beard and turban. He says the hiring process was initiated in 2014. A recruiter praised the doctor’s credentials and experience in a series of telephone interviews. However, after the doctor submitted photographs of himself, along with information about Sikhism, all future interviews were abruptly canceled. The job then was left vacant for an extended time.

In a federal religious discrimination lawsuit filed on his behalf by The Sikh Coalition, plaintiff asserts it was very clear to him he was denied a job at defendant medical group because of both his ethnic background and religious appearance.  Continue reading

A Pennsylvania health care provider agreed to settle with six of its former employees who alleged they were fired because they were denied a religious exemption from the company’s policy that required mandatory vaccination. The company agreed to pay $300,000, which will cover back pay and damages to the half dozen workers. sad

The company required workers to receive a mandatory flu vaccine, starting in 2013. The policy spelled out that workers who declined to receive the vaccine, either due to medical reasons or for religious purposes, could opt to wear a face mask instead while interacting with patients throughout the season when flu is the most prevalent.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) filed an employment lawsuit on their behalf, asserting that for the 2013-2014 flu season, the workers in question asked for a religious exemption to the policy, and yet were denied their request. Meanwhile, the facility did grant 13 vaccination exemptions that were requested by others on the basis of medical issues. Continue reading