Medical Transportation Company Refused to Provide a Sabbath Accommodation to a Jehovah's Witness Employee, Then Fired Her, Federal Agency Charged
MEMPHIS, Tenn. - American Medical Response of Tennessee, Inc. (AMR), a Naperville, Ill. based private provider of medical transportation services, will pay $40,000 and furnish injunctive relief to settle a religious discrimination lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the federal agency announced today.
According to the EEOC, a former AMR employee who was a Jehovah's Witness requested Sundays off to worship. After initially accommodating the employee's request, AMR later refused to continue accommodating the employee and then fired the employee.
Such alleged conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 which requires employers to provide a reasonable accommodation for an employee's sincerely held religious beliefs. The EEOC filed suit (Civil Action No. 2:17-cv-02725 in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Tennessee) after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its voluntary conciliation process.
Besides the monetary relief, AMR entered into a two-year consent decree requiring the company to develop and implement a religious accommodation policy and train its employees, including human resources and management personnel on the religious accommodation requirements under Title VII. AMR also agreed to report complaints of religious discrimination/harassment and denials of requests for religious accommodation to the EEOC and permit the EEOC to monitor the company's compliance with the consent decree. AMR denied any liability or wrongdoing in the suit.
"Those empowered by employers to make decisions about an employee's request for a religious accommodation should do so in an objective, informed, and educated way," said Faye Williams, regional attorney for the EEOC's Memphis District Office. "It is imperative employers know their responsibilities under Title VII."
Delner Franklin-Thomas, district director of the Memphis Office, which has jurisdiction over Arkansas, Tennessee, and portions of Mississippi, said, "The rich diversity of our nation extends to religious beliefs. Employers must be prepared to address religious diversity in their organizations. Having a policy that addresses religious discrimination and accommodations is a good starting point."
American Medical Response of Tennessee, Inc., operates as a subsidiary of American Medical Response, a medical transportation provider with more than 29,000 paramedics, EMTs, nurses, doctors and support staff who transport more than 4.8 million patients nationwide each year.
The EEOC advances opportunity in the workplace by enforcing federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. More information is available at www.eeoc.gov. Stay connected with the latest EEOC news by subscribing to our email updates.