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EEOC Sues Altec Industries for Religious Discrimination

Company Failed to Hire Sabbatarian Applicants, Federal Agency Charged

ASHEVILLE, N.C. – Altec Industries, Inc., a Birmingham, Ala. based manufacturing company, violated federal law by failing to hire a class of Sabbatarian applicants because of their religion, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit it filed today.  

According to the EEOC’s suit, James Wright and other Sabattarian applicants applied for employment at Altec’s Burnsville, N.C. manufacturing facility. As Sabbatarians, Wright and the other class members held the sincere religious belief that they could not work on their Sabbath, which runs from sundown on Friday until sundown on Saturday. Wright is a Seventh-day Adventist. According to the complaint, when Altec learned that the applicants objected to working from sundown on Friday to sundown on Saturday based on their religion, it decided not to hire them.

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits employers from discriminating against individuals because of their religion and requires employers to reasonably accommodate an employee’s sincerely held religious beliefs unless doing so would impose an undue hardship on the employer.  The EEOC seeks back pay, compensatory damages and punitive damages for Wright and the other Applicants, as well as injunctive and other non-monetary relief. The EEOC filed suit in U.S. District Court for the Western District of North Carolina (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. Altec Industries, Inc., Civil Action No. 1:10-cv-00216), after first attempting to reach a voluntary settlement. 

“Employers should be mindful that it is against the law to discriminate against someone based on their religion,” said Lynette Barnes, regional attorney for the EEOC’s Charlotte District.  "Employers cannot refuse to hire an applicant because of a religious belief.  Many decision makers seem to forget that in hiring new employees, an employer has an obligation to provide a reasonable accommodation for a religious belief unless it would impose an undue hardship on the company.” 

According to its web site,, Altec Industries manufactures aerial lifts, cranes and specialty equipment for the electric utility and contractor markets.

The EEOC is responsible for enforcing federal laws prohibiting discrimination in employment. Further information about the EEOC is available on its web site at