Skip top navigation Skip to content

print   email  Share

PRESS RELEASE
12-21-12

Altec to Pay $25,000 to Settle EEOC Religious Discrimination Suit

Company  Failed to Hire Seventh-day Adventist Due to His Refusal to Work on the Sabbath,  Federal Agency Alleged

ASHEVILLE, N.C. - Altec  Industries, Inc., a Birmingham, Ala. based manufacturing company, will pay  $25,000 and furnish other relief to settle a religious discrimination lawsuit  filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency announced  today.

According to the EEOC's suit,  James Wright applied for employment at Altec's Burnsville, N.C., manufacturing  facility.  As a Seventh-day Adventist,  Wright held the sincere religious belief that he could not work on his Sabbath,  which runs from sundown on Friday until sundown on Saturday.  The EEOC alleged in its complaint that when  Altec learned during a job interview that Wright objected to working from  sundown on Friday to sundown on Saturday based on his religion, it decided not  to hire him.

Title VII of the Civil Rights  Act of 1964 prohibits employers from discriminating against individuals because  of their religion at all stages of the employment process.  Title VII requires employers to reasonably  accommodate an employee's sincerely-held religious beliefs unless doing so  would impose an undue hardship on the employer.   The EEOC filed suit in U.S. District Court for the Western District of  North Carolina (Equal Employment  Opportunity Commission v. Altec Industries, Inc., Civil Action No.  1:10-CV-00216), after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement  through conciliation.

In addition to  paying monetary relief to Wright, the settlement requires Altec to take other  actions, including providing annual training on religious discrimination to all  of its managers and supervisors at its Burnsville, N.C. facility.  In addition, Altec must post a notice on  employees' rights under federal anti-discrimination laws and provide periodic  reports to the EEOC on individuals not hired and actions taken in response to  employee requests for religious accommodations. 

"An employer cannot refuse to  hire an applicant to avoid making a religious accommodation," said Lynette A.  Barnes, regional attorney for the EEOC's Charlotte District.  "Where there is a conflict between a  religious belief and work rules, the law mandates that employers make a sincere  effort to accommodate those beliefs, including at the application stage.  We are pleased that  the settlement with Altec provides injunctive relief that will benefit all the  company's employees and future applicants."

According to its web site, http://www.altec.com/, Altec Industries manufactures  aerial lifts, cranes and specialty equipment for the electric utility and  contractor markets.

The EEOC is responsible for  enforcing federal laws prohibiting discrimination in employment. Further  information about the EEOC is available on its web site at www.eeoc.gov.