Florida Employee Wrongfully Fired Because Of Her Religious Beliefs EEOC Lawsuit Claims
Having represented wrongful termination victims for more than twenty years, our Citrus County, Florida wrongful termination lawyers know that employers often fire employees when their religious beliefs conflict with work rules. In this article, our Inverness, Florida wrongful termination attorneys explain how a recent wrongful termination lawsuit brought by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) illustrates the expansive protection afforded to employees against religious discrimination under the federal anti-discrimination laws when their religious beliefs conflict with employment requirements.
In a press release issued on February 24, 2021, the EEOC announced that it has filed a religious discrimination lawsuit against Noble House Sole, LLC (Noble House). On February 24, 2021, the EEOC filed the religious discrimination case, U.S. E.E.O.C v. Noble House Sole, LLC, Case No. 1:21-cv-20754, in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida.
Freedom From Religious Discrimination
The EEOC has filed the religious discrimination case pursuant to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII) on behalf of a former employee of Noble House, Julienne Claude (Claude). Under Title VII, employers are forbidden from discriminating against employees and applicants for employment on the basis of religion. Title VII defines “religion” to include all aspects of religious observance and practice, as well as belief. In protecting employees’ religious freedom in the workplace, Title VII imposes an obligation on employers to reasonably accommodate an employee’s religious beliefs or practices when they conflict with a work rule short of incurring an undue hardship. When an employer does not reasonably accommodate an employee’s religious beliefs or practices that conflict with a work rule, and punishes the employee for not complying with the employment requirement, such as by firing the employee, the employer has discriminated against the employee because of religion, unless the employer establishes that reasonably accommodating the employee’s religion would have imposed an undue hardship.
The EEOC claims that Noble House unlawfully discharged Claude in violation of Title VII because she could not work on Saturdays due to her religious beliefs.
Employee Claims Wrongfully Fired
Noble House is a resort hotel in Sunny Isles Beach, Florida. On January 22, 2018, Noble House hired Claude as a room attendant. Claude informed Noble House that she is a practicing Seventh-Day Adventists and could not work on Saturdays. Noble House initially accommodated Claude’s religious accommodation request, and Claude did not work on Saturdays from January 2018 through November 2018.
In October 2018, Noble House hired a new Director of Housekeeping. During a staff meeting in October or November 2018, the new Director of Housekeeping asked Claude to work on Saturdays starting in December. Claude informed the new Director of Housekeeping that she could not work on Saturdays because of her religion. In late November 2018, Noble House scheduled Claude to work on Saturday, December 1, 2018. Claude reminded Noble House that she could not work on Saturdays due to her religion, but the new Director of Housekeeping said that she “didn’t want to hear it.” Likewise, the Front Desk Manager told Claude, “if you are unable to work on Saturdays, your place is not here.”
Claude advised Noble House that she would not report to work on Saturday, December 1, 2018. Claude did not report to work that day. Several other room attendants were given the day off on Saturday, December 1, 2018. When Claude reported to work on Sunday, December 2, 2018, she was sent home. On Monday, December 3, 2018, Claude met with Noble House’s Human Resources Director. The Human Resources Director told Claude that she was fired for not reporting to work on Saturday, December 1, 2018. Noble House then escorted Claude out of the building.
Attorneys For Employees Wrongfully Fired
The EEOC, which is an administrative agency of the federal government, is responsible for interpreting and enforcing the federal employment laws prohibiting discrimination, harassment, and retaliation. In protecting employees’ right to religious freedom in the workplace, the EEOC files lawsuits in federal court on behalf of employees who have been discriminated against on the basis of religion, including employees who have been denied a reasonable accommodation for their religious beliefs or practices.
In a press release issued by the EEOC on February 24, 2021 regarding the case, a regional attorney for the EEOC’s Miami District Office, Robert Weisberg, observed that “employees should not have to choose between their religious beliefs and their livelihood.” “If an employer can accommodate an employee’s request not work on the Sabbath without undue hardship,” Mr. Weisberg stated, “it should do so.” In commenting on the case, the Acting Director for the EEOC’s Miami District Office, Bradley A. Anderson, explained that “when there is a conflict between an employee’s religious beliefs and work rules, the law requires employers to look for workable solutions.” “This lawsuit,” Mr. Anderson added, “reflects the EEOC’s commitment to protecting the rights of employees to be free from religious discrimination in the workplace, including litigation when necessary.”
Inverness, FL Wrongful Termination Lawyers
Based in Ocala, Florida and representing employees throughout Central Florida, our Citrus County, Florida wrongful termination attorneys have represented wrongful termination victims for more than two decades. If you have been wrongfully terminated or have questions about your protection against wrongful termination under the federal employment laws, please contact our office for a free consultation with our Inverness, Florida wrongful termination lawyers. Our employment and labor law attorneys take 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.