EEOC Files Religious Discrimination Lawsuit Against South Florida Hotel
On February 24th, 2021, the U.S. Equal Opportunity Commission (EEOC) announced that the agency is filing a religious discrimination lawsuit against Noble House Solé, LLC, a boutique hotel located in Sunny Isles Beach, Florida. The federal agency charges that the company unlawfully discriminated against an employee when it refused to offer a religious accommodation and, subsequently, fired her because she could not work on Saturdays.
EEOC Allegations: Seventh-day Adventist Endured Religious Discrimination
The EEOC’s lawsuit contends that Noble House Solé hired a Seventh-day Adventist as part of their housekeeping crew. As part of their religious practice, Seventh-day Adventists attend services on Saturdays and strictly observe it as a rest. They are required to abstain from secular work during this time. According to the EEOC’s complaint, the employee worked for more than ten months at Noble House Solé without problems. The company adjusted her schedule, giving her hours that allowed her to observe the Sabbath.
However, the company then hired a new manager for the housekeeping division. She reaffirmed to that manager that she could not work on Saturdays. The new manager reportedly told the employee that she had to work Saturdays or her “place is not here.” She was immediately scheduled for a Saturday housekeeping shift. When she failed to show up, she was terminated by the company. The EEOC has filed a religious discrimination lawsuit, seeking back pay and punitive damages.
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act and Religious Accommodations
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act protects employees against discrimination on the basis of their religion. Notably, federal law requires companies and organizations to make “reasonable accommodations” for religious workers when doing so would not impose an undue hardship on the employer. Here are three things all employees should know about religious accommodations under the Civil Rights Act:
- Sincerely Held Religious Beliefs are Protected: Religious discrimination protects are expansive. The law protects adherents of the world’s major religions and those of new, less common faiths.
- A Reasonable Accommodation is an Effective Adjustment: To abide by their requirements under federal law, covered employers should attempt to provide religious employees with workplace adjustments or modifications that allow them to perform the position without violating religious beliefs/customs.
- Every Case is Unique: Religious accommodation requests are case-by-case matters. An employer is only required to provide an accommodation if it can do so without imposing more than a minimal cost. Companies and organizations are not required to provide any specific accommodation as a matter of law. Instead, they have a responsibility to engage in a good faith, interactive bargaining process to find a religious accommodation that works without posing an undue burden.
Get Help From a Religious Discrimination Attorney in Florida
Under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, an employee may be entitled to an accommodation for a sincerely held religious belief. If you have any questions about religious accommodations in the workplace, please do not hesitate to reach out to an experienced Florida employment discrimination attorney for immediate help.