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EEOC Settles Wrongful Termination Case Claiming Worker Fired Because Of Religious Beliefs

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For the past twenty years, our Marion County, Florida wrongful termination attorneys have litigated employment discrimination cases in Florida courts. Through their extensive experience representing employment discrimination victims, our Ocala, Florida wrongful termination lawyers have learned that the most prevalent form of religious discrimination is an employer’s refusal to accommodate an employee’s religious beliefs when they conflict with an employment requirement. Instead of accommodating their employees’ religious beliefs, many employers simply terminate employees for failing to comply with the employment requirement. In this article, our Marion County, Florida wrongful termination attorneys explain how a religious discrimination lawsuit recently resolved by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) demonstrates that federal employment discrimination law protects employees when their religious beliefs conflict with an employment requirement.

Wrongful Termination Lawsuit

In a press release issued on September 8, 2021, the EEOC announced that it has entered into a Consent Decree settling a religious discrimination lawsuit against AscensionPointe Recovery Systems, LLC (APRS). On June 17, 2021, the EEOC filed the religious discrimination lawsuit, U.S. E.E.O.C. v. AscensionPointe Recovery Systems, LLC, Case No. 0:21-cv-01428, in the U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota after first attempting to settle the case through its conciliation program. In the Consent Decree, which was endorsed by U.S. District Court Judge Eric C. Tostrud on September 7, 2021, APRS agreed to pay $65,000 to resolve the religious discrimination lawsuit.

Freedom From Religious Discrimination

The EEOC brought the religious discrimination lawsuit under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII) on behalf of a former employee of APRS, a man named Harrington (Harrington). Title VII protects employees from discrimination on the basis of religion. Title VII defines the term “religion” broadly to include all aspects of religious observance and practice, as well as belief.

In order to protect employees from religious discrimination, Title VII also requires employers to reasonably accommodate the religious beliefs of employees when they clash with employment requirements unless an employer is able to prove that an accommodation would impose an undue hardship. When an employee’s religious beliefs conflict with an employment requirement, and the employer does not accommodate the employee’s religious beliefs, Title VII prohibits the employer from firing the employee because of the employee’s failure to comply with the employment requirement, unless the employer demonstrates that an accommodation constituted an undue hardship. If the employer cannot prove that accommodating the employee’s religious beliefs would have imposed an undue hardship, then the employer has unlawfully fired the employee on the basis of religion in violation of Title VII.

Employee Claims Wrongful Termination

APRS is an estate and probate debt recovery company that manages decedent debt recovery for creditors. On July 26, 2017, APRS notified Harrington by email that he had to be fingerprinted. After receiving the email, Harrington told APRS that the fingerprinting requirement conflicted with his religious beliefs and requested an exemption from the fingerprinting requirement as an accommodation for his religious beliefs. Harrington, according to the EEOC, is a Christian and has a sincere religious belief that he should refrain from having his fingerprints captured.

Later in the day on July 26, 2017, APRS met with Harrington and told him that he was required to comply with the fingerprinting requirement. In response, Harrington again told APRS that he did not want to be fingerprinted because of his religious beliefs. Despite being advised of the conflict between Harrington’s religious beliefs and the fingerprinting requirement, APRS did not explore any alternatives to fingerprinting as an accommodation of Harrington’s religious beliefs. Later that same day, APRS fired Harrington because of his refusal to comply with APRS’s fingerprinting requirement.

The EEOC contends that APRS discriminated against Harrington on the basis of religion in violation of Title VII when APRS failed to accommodate his religious beliefs, and then fired him for failing to comply with the fingerprinting requirement which conflicted with his religious beliefs.

Lawyers For Employees Wrongfully Fired

The EEOC is the administrative agency of the federal government responsible for administering, interpreting, and enforcing federal employment discrimination law. As part of its efforts to eradicate workplace discrimination and protect employee rights under federal employment discrimination law, the EEOC brings lawsuits in federal court on behalf of employment discrimination victims, including employees who have been discriminated against on the basis of religion.

In a press release issued on September 8, 2021 regarding the case, a regional attorney for the EEOC’s Chicago District Office, Gregory Gochanour, explained that “the law requires employers to consider accommodations to the religious beliefs and practices of their employees, and to provide an accommodation unless it presents an undue hardship.” In commenting on the case, the Director of the EEOC’s Chicago District Office, Julianne Bowman, observed that “under Title VII, employers are required to make reasonable adjustments to the work environment that will allow an employee to practice his or her religion.”

Ocala, FL Wrongful Termination Lawyers

Based in Ocala, Florida and representing workers throughout Central Florida, our Marion County, Florida wrongful termination attorneys have litigated wrongful termination cases in Florida courts for more than two decades. If you have been wrongfully fired or have questions about whether you have been wrongfully fired in violation of federal employment discrimination law, please contact our office for a free consultation with our Ocala, Florida wrongful termination lawyers. Our employee rights law firm takes wrongful termination cases on a contingency fee basis. This means that there are no attorney’s fees incurred unless there is a recovery and our attorney’s fees come solely from the monetary award that you recover.

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