Jurors awarded $21 million to plaintiff in a religious discrimination lawsuit after she, a devout Christian, was fired from her hotel dishwasher position, in part for refusal to work Sundays. As our Los Angeles employment attorneys can explain, an employer who fails to make reasonable accommodations for a worker’s sincerely-held beliefs can be found in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
At the crux of whether an accommodation is reasonable is if the requested accommodation would impose an undue hardship, defined as a more than minimal burden on the business. A religious practice can be considered “sincerely-held” to a person even if it’s newly-adopted, not observed with consistency or varies from the commonly-followed tenants of the religion.
The 60-year-old mother-of-six plaintiff in this case, in addition to being a dishwasher and immigrant from Haiti, is part of a Catholic missionary church that aids the poor. According to her federal lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court in Miami, she informed her employer – a posh downtown hotel – that she informed her employer of the need for accommodation when she first started her job, and specifically cited her religious beliefs. Sunday, according to Christian religious texts, is supposed to be a day of rest and devotion to God. Continue reading