Skip top navigation Skip to content

Print   Email  Share

PRESS RELEASE
7-20-09

EEOC RESOLVES RELIGIOUS BIAS SUIT FOR SEVENTH-DAY ADVENTIST FIRED OVER OBSERVING SABBATH

Settlement With White Hall Nursing Includes Monetary and Other Relief

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – White Hall Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, an elder-care facility in White Hall, Ark., will pay $24,000 to settle a religious discrimination lawsuit brought by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency announced today.

The EEOC’s lawsuit (Civil Action No. 5:08-cv-00185, filed in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Arkansas, Pine Bluff Division) charged that White Hall denied a religious accommodation to a certified nursing assistant (CNA) and fired her because of her religious beliefs. The CNA, who had worked at White Hall’s long-term care facility for over a year, is a Seventh-Day Adventist, and her Sabbath is from sundown on Friday to sundown on Saturday evening. Her religious beliefs prohibit her from working on her Sabbath. After accommodating the CNA for over a year, the facility suddenly refused to allow the employee to take off on her Sabbath and then terminated her employment.

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits religious discrimination and requires employers to make reasonable accommodations to employees’ and applicants’ sincerely held religious beliefs as long as this does not pose an undue hardship. The EEOC filed suit after first attempting to reach a voluntary settlement.

In addition to the monetary relief, the consent decree settling the suit, approved by U.S. District Judge Susan Webber Wright, enjoins White Hall from discrimination on the bases of religion and retaliation. Further, the decree requires the company to provide training to its supervisory and management personnel on religious discrimination, to submit two reports to the EEOC on the training and any future complaints of religious accommodation, and to post a notice reinforcing the company’s policies on Title VII.

“An employee should not be forced to choose between her religion and her job,” said Faye A. Williams, regional attorney of the EEOC’s Memphis District Office, which has jurisdiction over Arkansas, Tennessee, and Northern Mississippi. “This case demonstrates the EEOC’s commitment to combat religious discrimination in the workplace.”

Over the past decade, religion-based charge filings with EEOC offices nationwide have almost doubled, from 1,786 in Fiscal Year 1998 to 3,273 in FY 2008.

The EEOC enforces federal laws that prohibit employment discrimination. More information about the Commission is available on its web site at www.eeoc.gov.