Christian Employee Discharged After Refusing to Work on Sunday, Agency Charged
INDIANAPOLIS – Magnetics International, Inc., a Pennsylvania corporation that supports steel mills by regenerating hydrochloric acid used in the steelmaking process and generates iron oxide as a marketable byproduct, will pay $30,000 to settle a religious discrimination lawsuit brought by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency announced today.
According to the EEOC’s suit (Northern District of Indiana, Civil Action No. 2:11-cv-364), Daniel Bewley was hired as a laborer at Magnetics’ Burn Harbor, Ind., facility. Bewley notified Magnetics of a conflict between the schedule the company expected Bewley to work and Bewley’s religious practices, yet Magnetics fired Bewley instead of offering a reasonable accommodation.
Before he accepted an offer of employment, Bewley, a Christian, was told that he would not be required to work consecutive Sundays, his Sabbath. According to Bewley’s sincerely held religious beliefs, he had to attend church at least every other week. When Magnetics scheduled him to work a second consecutive Sunday, Bewley reminded Magnetics of its commitment and informed Magnetics that he could not work because of his obligations to his church. Magnetics forced Bewley to choose between working the scheduled Sunday shift and losing his job, and ultimately terminated his employment. The company refused to attempt a reasonable accommodation, as federal law requires, and which would have prevented this problem.
Such conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Title I of the Civil Rights Act of 1991. The EEOC filed suit after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.
The consent decree settling the suit requires that Magnetics track and respond appropriately to requests for religious accommodation for the next three years; post a policy of non-discrimination; train its employees on non-discrimination; and report to the EEOC on progress in this area.
“Federal law is clear that employers must make a reasonable effort to accommodate sincerely-held religious beliefs,” said EEOC Regional Attorney Laurie Young. “Doing so is the best way to avoid lawsuits like this.”
The EEOC is responsible for enforcing federal laws against employment discrimination. Further information is available at www.eeoc.gov.