Some managers are clueless. One would think that employers, even those not particularly savvy about employment discrimination, would somehow know not to discriminate on the basis of religious beliefs.
Not so the new administrator of senior assisted living facilities at a company in Texas. She decided that the long-time dietary services manager, who because of her religious beliefs had previously been excused from working on Sundays, would now be required to be available to work on Sundays. To make matters worse, she injected her own beliefs (or, perhaps, sarcasm) into the fray by telling the employee that God would her excuse her because she worked in the health care field. "There’s the door," the administrator told the employee when she balked.
So now the company must pay $42,500, and in addition, “furnish extensive injunctive relief,” described by the EEOC as follows:
- amend its written anti-discrimination policy to include language regarding Title VII’s prohibition on religious discrimination and a provision regarding legal obligations for an employer to provide reasonable accommodations to employees based on their religious belief, including beliefs necessitating not working on a particular day or days of the week;
- conduct annual training for three years on the law against religious discrimination in the workplace, an employee’s right to have his/her religious beliefs accommodated in the workplace, the types of accommodations that may be granted to employees due to their religious beliefs and the proper procedure for investigating complaints; and
- post an anti-discrimination policy for five years at its corporate headquarters in Grapevine, Texas, and at its facility in Sweetwater, Texas.
Said an EEOC attorney: "An employee’s religious beliefs should never be dismissively disregarded. Under the law, it is important for an employer examine whether a conflict between a work requirement and the faith-based practice of an individual can be resolved."