Recently, retail giant Wal-Mart has agreed to pay monetary relief amounting to $70,000 and to conduct preventive measures to settle a religious discrimination lawsuit filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) back in 2009.
The said workplace discrimination lawsuit was filed by the agency in response to the complaint it received from one of Wal-Mart’s assistant manager from Colville, Washington.
According to court documents, the said assistant manager who is a devout Mormon has been religiously observing Sabbath day even before she entered the company. In fact, since he had been employed at Wal-Mart in 1995, the giant retailer accommodated his request for leave every Sunday.
However, in 2009, the company modified its scheduling system and refused to pursue accommodating him as it had done for more than a decade. Therefore, eventually, he had been given disciplinary actions in each absence he made when he was unable to swap schedules with other managers.
Once again, the EEOC reminds employers that under the Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, employers are required to provide employees with reasonable accommodation to the sincere religious beliefs of the latter as long as it does not present undue hardship to others. In the case of Wal-Mart, its failure to provide reasonable accommodation to one of its former employees has lead to the filing of a workplace discrimination case against it.
The said lawsuit was filed before the Western District of Washington after due investigation and subsequent attempt to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.
After a settlement conference with the U.S. Magistrate Judge, both EEOC and Wal-Mart agreed to settle the lawsuit with an entry of consent decree that provides $70,000 in monetary relief and other remedies such as providing training to human resource personnel on the matter of religious accommodations and anti-retaliation.
In its official press release, the EEOC’s San Francisco Regional Attorney, William R. Tamayo, stated the no workers or employees should have to choose between their religious beliefs and their jobs. Tamayo also said that accommodating a long-time dedicated employee is a healthy employment practice. Thus, the federal law clearly obliges employers to provide an employee with reasonable accommodation unless it presents undue hardship.
Meanwhile, a Los Angeles workplace discrimination commented that the said resolution is fair and reasonable enough for both parties especially considering that the discriminated employee was a long time employee of Wal-Mart.