Driver is Given Damages and Sabbath Accommodations
MEMPHIS -- United Parcel Service (UPS) will offer monetary damages and religious accommodations to a 19-year employee at UPS’s Bartlett, Tenn., facility to resolve a lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency announced today.
The lawsuit, EEOC v. UPS, Inc. (Civil Action No. 2:07-cv-02576 filed in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Tennessee), charged UPS violated federal law by refusing to accommodate the religious beliefs of one of its drivers and trying to force him to work past sundown on his Sabbath, which violates his tenets as a member of the United Church of God.
Religious discrimination violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which mandates that sincerely held religious beliefs of employees must be accommodated by employers as long as it does not cause an undue hardship on the company. The EEOC filed suit after first attempting to reach a voluntary settlement. UPS denied that it engaged in discrimination against the employee.
Under the terms of the three-year consent decree settling the suit, UPS will pay $23,500 to the employee as damages. UPS also agreed to maintain a policy which comports with Title VII in order to provide reasonable accommodations for employees’ religious beliefs. In addition, UPS must conduct training on the prevention of discrimination based on religion for all of its Bartlett managers. The employer is also enjoined from discriminating against employees by unlawfully denying religious accommodation and from unlawfully retaliating against employees who participated in this proceeding. UPS agreed to provide a variety of options to reasonably accommodate the employee’s religious beliefs, including allowing the employee to be relieved of overtime; to use accrued vacation days; to request personal holidays; to request unpaid leave when available; and to use allotted unexcused absences.
“Religious discrimination is not to be taken lightly,” said Faye Williams, the EEOC’s regional attorney for its Memphis District, which covers Tennessee, Arkansas and Northern Mississippi. “All employers must respond reasonably to an employee’s religious accommodation requests.”
According to company information, UPS, the world's largest package delivery company, delivers more than 15 million packages a day to 6.1 million customers in more than 200 countries and territories around the world. Since 2005, its operations include logistics and other transportation-related areas.
Religious discrimination charge filings reported to EEOC offices nationwide have substantially increased from 1,388 in Fiscal Year 1992 to 3,273 in FY 2008.
The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about the EEOC is available on its web site at www.eeoc.gov.