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EEOC Settles Seventh Day Adventist Religious Discrimination Suit

Experts say religious discrimination claims in the workplace are expected to be a growing problem for employers.

January 2, 2013
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A Birmingham, Alabama-based manufacturing company has agreed to pay $25,000 to settle a religious discrimination lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission for allegedly refusing to hire a Seventh Day Adventist, the agency said.

The EEOC said late last month that when James Wright applied for employment with Altec Industries Inc.'s Burnsville, North Carolina, manufacturing facility, he said that as a Seventh Day Adventist, he could not work on his Sabbath, which runs from sundown Friday until sundown Saturday. The EEOC charged in its complaint that Altec decided not to hire him as a result, which it said violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

In addition to paying the $25,000, under terms of the settlement, Altec also agreed to provide annual training on religious discrimination to all of its managers and supervisors at its Burnsville facility, among other actions.

Lynette A. Barnes, regional attorney for the EEOC's Charlotte, North Carolina, district office said in a statement: "An employer cannot refuse to hire an applicant to avoid making a religious accommodation.

"Where there is a conflict between a religious belief and work rules, the law mandates that employers make a sincere effort to accommodate those beliefs, including at the application stage. We are pleased that the settlement with Altec provides injunctive relief that will benefit all the company's employees and future applicants."

A spokesman for Altec, which provides products and services to the electric utility, telecommunications and contractor markets, could not immediately be reached for comment.

Experts say religious discrimination claims in the workplace are expected to be a growing problem for employers.

Judy Greenwald writes for Business Insurance, a sister publication of Workforce Management. Comment below or email editors@workforce.com.

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