Can an Employer Require Employees to Attend Mandatory Prayer Meetings
Having represented victims of employment discrimination for decades, our Citrus County, Florida, lawyers know that employees are sometimes discriminated against or retaliated against based on their religious beliefs. Despite strong protections in Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 which prohibits religious discrimination, harassment and retaliation in the workplace, some employers feel it is their prerogative to impose their religious views on their workers. In this article, we explain how one company’s misguided views on their ability to force employees to attend prayer meetings culminated in a $50,000 penalty levied by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
The U.S. Equal Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is a federal government agency charged with the enforcement of federal laws against employment discrimination. The EEOC recently took action in the form of a federal lawsuit filed against a residential home service and repair company based in North Carolina. The company, Aurora Renovations and Developments, LLC (doing business as Aurora Pro Services), was in the habit of requiring its employees to attend daily Christian prayer meetings led by the company’s owner. During the meetings, the owner read from the Bible and Christian devotionals and also solicited prayer requests from workers.
Aurora’s owner took roll of employee attendance at some of these meetings and issued reprimands to workers who didn’t show up. When one construction manager requested that he be excused from the prayer portion of these meetings, his request was refused. In a short period of time following the manager’s request, his pay was cut and he was dismissed from employment.
In another instance, a customer service representative who discontinued attending the prayer meetings, citing a conflict with her religious beliefs, was also terminated.
The employer’s conduct caught the attention of the EEOC, which first attempted to resolve the matter through conciliation. Conciliation is a form of mediation or alternative dispute resolution where the EEOC works with the offending employer to acknowledge the discriminatory conduct, agree to stop the offending behavior, and fashion an appropriate remedy. After failing to reach agreement, the EEOC filed suit in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of North Carolina.
Before trial, the company agreed to settle the charges against it by submitting to a three-year consent decree prohibiting Aurora Pro Services from violating Title VII in the future through employment discrimination or retaliation. The business will be required to adopt and implement a new policy that prohibits discrimination and retaliation in the workplace and also addresses when and how religious accommodation requests will be honored.
The company will further be required to train all of its employees and managers in the new policy. Aurora’s owner will be required to attend the training as well.
A further component of the settlement requires Aurora Pro Services to pay $50,000.
The case is Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. Aurora Renovations ad Developments, LLC, d/b/a Aurora Pro Services, Civil Action No.: 1:22-cv-00490.
Citrus County, FL Discrimination Lawyers
Based in Ocala, Florida, and representing workers throughout Florida, our Citrus County employment discrimination lawyers have been litigating employment discrimination cases in Florida for over twenty years. If you have been the victim of discrimination at work based on religion or other protected characteristics, or if you have questions about your rights as the victim of employment discrimination, please contact our office for a free consultation. Our employee rights law firm takes employment discrimination 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.