Wal-Mart Settles Religious-Discrimination Suit
Failure to make reasonable accommodations for employees’ religious beliefs can be costly for employers. Wal-Mart recently settled a religious-discrimination lawsuit filed against it by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) by agreeing to pay $70,000 and to train its human resource personnel on accommodating religion and avoiding retaliation.
The case involved a long-term employee, an assistant manager who was a Mormon whose faith required him to refrain from working on Sundays. For 15 years, Wal-Mart accommodated his request for leave on Sundays. After the company changed its scheduling system, however, it refused to continue to give him Sundays off. Although Wal-Mart did not fire the employee, it disciplined him and threatened him with being fired.
Federal law prohibits discrimination against job applicants and employees based on their sincerely held religious beliefs, and it requires employers to provide reasonable accommodations, as long as those accommodations do not pose an undue hardship to the employer’s business. On its website, the EEOC specifically mentions flexible scheduling as an example of a common reasonable accommodation.. Other examples it gives include job reassignments, voluntary shift swaps and modifications to workplace practices.
The number of religious-discrimination charges filed with the EEOC increased from 1,709 in 1997 to 4,151 in 2011. The amount of monetary benefits paid, not including those paid in litigation, increased from $2.2 million in 1997 to $12.6 million in 2011.
Training employees is a crucial part of avoiding legal violations. An EEOC spokesperson said, “Don’t leave your supervisors and management in doubt about how to respond to a request for accommodation.” WeComply’s online training courses in preventing discrimination and harassment give employees the information they need to make the right decisions.Categories: Discrimination & Harassment Compliance
Tags: Preventing Discrimination and Harassment