Federal Agency Says Aviation Concepts Fired Jehovah’s Witness for Not Raising Flags
HAGATNA, Guam – A federal judge has approved the settlement by Aviation Concepts, Inc., an aircraft retailer and service provider in Guam, of a religious discrimination lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the federal agency announced today. Aviation Concepts will pay $51,000 and furnish extensive relief to settle the EEOC’s suit.
The federal agency originally filed suit against Aviation Concepts in September 2011, charging that the company fired Armando Perez, an assistant mechanic and practicing Jehovah’s Witness, after he informed his supervisor that he did not wish to perform certain acts that conflicted with his religious beliefs (EEOC v. Aviation Concepts, Inc., Case No. 11-00028). Specifically, the EEOC alleged that a manager ordered Perez to raise the U.S. and Guam flags at the worksite in June 2010. Although he explained that raising the flags would violate his religious beliefs, the manager ordered Perez to go home and fired him that same day for insubordination.
Religious discrimination violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The EEOC filed suit after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.
Aviation Concepts and the EEOC ultimately entered into a two-and-a-half year consent decree, effectively settling the lawsuit. Aside from the monetary relief for Perez, the company agreed to appoint an equal employment opportunity consultant; revise its policies and procedures to include the reasonable accommodation of sincerely held beliefs; effectively handle requests for religious accommodation and complaints of discrimination or retaliation; and provide annual anti-discrimination training to all employees with additional training for management and human resources officials on how to handle complaints and accommodation requests. Aviation Concepts will also post a notice on the matter at each of its facilities, and the EEOC will monitor compliance with the decree.
“Workers have the right to request an accommodation or exception to work tasks or practices that conflict with their religious beliefs,” said Anna Y. Park, regional attorney for the EEOC’s Los Angeles District Office. “We are hopeful that the terms Aviation Concepts has agreed to will promote a workplace culture that is inclusive of workers irrespective of religion.”
Timothy Riera, local director for the EEOC’s Honolulu Local Office, which has jurisdiction over Guam, added, “Employers cannot ignore or summarily dismiss religious accommodation requests by workers. Companies who fire, discipline or otherwise negatively impact workers who exercise this right violate federal law.”
According to the company’s website, Aviation Concepts provides private jet charter, aircraft sales and acquisition, business aviation consulting and aircraft management services from its 50,000-square-foot hangar facility in Guam.
The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about the EEOC is available on its web site at www.eeoc.gov.