Chicago, IL (Law Firm Newswire) September 3, 2013 — If a company is able to make accommodations for a religious belief, without incurring extra expenses, they are obligated by law to do so.
“An Illinois trucking company recently discovered they violated federal discrimination laws by not accommodating two of their truckers due to their religious beliefs. Both followed the Islam faith and were allegedly fired for their beliefs,” explained Timothy Coffey, a Chicago employment lawyer and principal attorney for The Coffey Law Office, P. C., an employment litigation firm dedicated to representing employees in the workplace.
The lawsuit, filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), stated the trucking company refused to offer two of its workers the latitude of refusing to drive truck to deliver alcohol due to their faith. When both drivers stated they would not haul alcohol, as assigned by the company dispatcher, they were terminated from Star Transport.
The key finding of the EEOC investigation, used as evidence in court, was that Star Transport had every opportunity to avoid assigning both truckers alcohol delivery without causing any problems in the workplace. They could have been given other assignments easily. Instead, the company proceeded to relieve the truckers of their duties for following their religious beliefs.
“The important point to note in this case is that failing to make accommodations for the religious beliefs of employees, when it would not cause undue hardship for the employer, is a direct violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act (1964). It clearly prohibits religious discrimination,” Coffey outlined. This case was filed in the District Court for the Central District of Illinois in Peoria only after several attempts to reach a voluntary settlement under an existing conciliation process.
At trial, the EEOC sought to secure back pay for the truckers, as well as punitive and compensatory damages, in tandem with an order explicitly barring Star Transport from any further instances of discrimination.
“It is vital that employers understand that they do not get to pick and choose which religious practices and/or religions they agree to allow within the workplace environment. If they can reasonably adjust to a worker’s religious practices, without undue hardship, they must do so. This isn’t something new that a business would not know or understand. It is a tenet of law that has been around for close to 50-years,” said Coffey.
Workers who feel they have been discriminated against for any reason, would be wise to consult with a seasoned employment attorney to find out what their legal options are to move forward.
Learn more at http://www.employmentlawcounsel.com/
THE COFFEY LAW OFFICE, P.C.
351 W. Hubbard Street, Suite 602
Chicago, IL 60654
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