The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission

PRESS RELEASE
9-14-09

STAYBRIDGE SUITES SETTLES EEOC RELIGIOUS DISCRIMINATION SUIT

Federal Agency Charged Hotel Fired Employee for Refusing to Work on Her Sabbath

MEMPHIS – Generation Properties II, LLC, doing business as Staybridge Suites, a Research Triangle Park, N.C., based hotel chain, will pay $27,500 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. 2:08-cv-02420, filed in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Tennessee, Western Division) charged that Staybridge Suites denied a religious accommodation to an employee at its Memphis hotel and fired her because of her religious beliefs. As a member of Israel of God, the employee’s Sabbath is from sundown on Friday to sundown on Saturday evening. Her religious beliefs prohibit her from working on her Sabbath, but the facility refused to allow her to take the time off, and then terminated her.

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 approved by U.S. Magistrate Judge Diane Vescovo enjoins Staybridge Suites from discriminating on the bases of religion and retaliation. Further, the decree requires the company to develop a policy supporting religious accommodation; provide training to its supervisory and management personnel on religious discrimination; submit a report to the EEOC on the training and any future complaints of religious accommodation; and post a notice reinforcing the company’s policies on Title VII.

“Employers must not force employees to choose between their religion and their job," said Faye A. Williams, regional attorney of the EEOC’s Memphis District Office, which has jurisdiction over Arkansas, Tennessee, and Northern Mississippi. “The EEOC remains committed to combating religious discrimination in the workplace.”

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


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