Woman Fired for Observing Her Sabbath, Federal Agency Charges
DALLAS — The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) announced today that it has filed an employment discrimination suit against Cinram Wireless, L.L.C., a Fort Worth-based CD and DVD manufacturer, for failing to accommodate an employee’s schedule so that she could observe her Sabbath, and then firing her.
According to the EEOC’s suit, Cinram Wireless, L.L.C. initially allowed Eunice Arredondo, a telephone assembler who is a member of the Soldiers of the Cross of Christ Church, to work from Sunday through Thursday -- which accommodated her Sabbath observance from sundown Friday through sundown Saturday. Then the company changed the work requirements and would no longer allow Arredondo to work that schedule, the EEOC said. On March 19, 2008, Arredondo asked for an alternate schedule that would allow her to work while still preserving her ability to observe her Sabbath. She was told by Human Resources that if Cinram accommodated her, they would have to accommodate “every Christian,” the EEOC said, and she was then fired.
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits religious discrimination and requires employers to make reasonable accommodations to employees’ and applicants’ sincerely held religious beliefs as long as this does not pose an undue hardship. The EEOC filed suit, Case No. 3:09-cv-1785 in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas, after first attempting to reach a voluntary settlement. The EEOC seeks injunctive relief, including training for managers and the formulation of policies to prevent and correct religious discrimination. The suit also seeks lost wages and compensatory damages for Arredondo.
“Cinram made no reasonable effort to accommodate Ms. Arredondo’s religious beliefs, and did not sufficiently demonstrate that to have accommodated this employee would have created an undue hardship on the business,” said EEOC Senior Trial Attorney William C. Backhaus. “This devout woman, who is also a missionary, should not have been put in the harsh position of having to forsake her religious beliefs for a schedule change.”
EEOC Regional Attorney Robert Canino added, “This should not be a difficult question for employers to address in a constructive manner. Our laws provide protection for the religious freedom of workers. A company simply needs to make a reasonable effort to resolve any work-faith conflict in a way that does not unnecessarily impinge upon an employee's right to observe the principles of his or her religion.”
According to company information, Cinram Wireless L.L.C. is an indirect wholly owned subsidiary of Cinram International Income Fund. It is also a wholly owned subsidiary of Cinram International, the world’s largest provider of pre-recorded multimedia products and related logistics services. Cinram manufactures CDs and DVDs for media companies after being supplied a “master” by the supplier. Cinram’s work force size is 1,200 plus 800 to 1,000 temporary workers. The parent company has more than 17,000 employees worldwide.
The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about the EEOC is available on its web site at www.eeoc.gov.
This page was last modified on September 25, 2009.
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