The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission

PRESS RELEASE
9-11-09

COMMUNITY TRANSPORT SERVICES SUED BY EEOC FOR RELIGIOUS DISCRIMINATION

Ambulance Service Fired Jehovah’s Witness Employee for Refusing to Participate in Halloween Carnival, Federal Agency Charges

ORANGEBURG, S.C. – A Bowman, S.C.-based ambulance service illegally fired an emergency medical technician, who is a Jehovah's Witness, for refusing to participate in a Halloween carnival, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a religious discrimination lawsuit it filed today.

According to the EEOC’s suit (Civil Action No. 5:09-cv-02391 in U.S. District Court for the District of South Carolina) against Community Transport Services, LLC, Community Transport required Dale Morant, a Jehovah’s Witness, to participate in the carnival at the Prince of Orange Mall in Orangeburg, S.C., on Halloween 2006 on behalf of the company. Morant had previously informed one of the company's owners that she did not celebrate holidays or participate in holiday celebrations because she is a Jehovah's Witness. Morant’s religious beliefs as a Jehovah’s Witness prohibit her from participating in celebrations, including Halloween-related events. When Morant declined to take part, Community Transport fired her, the EEOC said.

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 attempting to reach a voluntary settlement. The agency’s suit seeks back pay, reinstatement, compensatory damages and punitive damages for Morant as well as injunctive relief.

“Employers must respect employees’ sincerely held religious beliefs and carefully consider requests made by employees based on those beliefs,” said Lynette A. Barnes, regional attorney of the EEOC's Charlotte District Office, which has jurisdiction over the state of South Carolina. “The law requires that employers explore alternative arrangements acceptable to both the employer and the employee to settle the problem. Refusal to even consider such an adjustment leaves the employer open to a possible religious discrimination suit.”

At the time of the alleged discrimination, Community Transport served Orangeburg, Bamberg, Calhoun, Clarendon, and Dorchester Counties in South Carolina.

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

The South Carolina Human Affairs Commission (SCHAC) originally investigated Morant’s charge. SCHAC works with the EEOC in investigating charges of employment discrimination. These charges raise claims under South Carolina law as well as federal laws enforced by the EEOC. Further information about SCHAC is available on its web site at www.state.sc.us/schac.

This page was last modified on September 11, 2009.

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