The EEOC sued Federal Express alleging that a no beard policy discriminated against employees with a sincerely held religious conviction that prevents shaving. The matter was settled in a consent decree which requires exceptions to the policy for religious reasons and training.
Insulin-dependent diabetic applicants for positions which required driving were automatically disqualified because of a “genuine substantial risk.” The Fifth Circuit no longer tolerates this. An individualized assessment must be conducted.
An employee with a metal plate in his head was routinely called “platehead.” He sued for disability-based harassment after his discharge. The Eighth Circuit found that disability-based harassment is unlawful, but dismissed the case because the repeated comment was not severe and extreme.
A white supremacist was demoted from a supervisory position because his employer feared he would not evaluate and discipline fairly. The Court ruled for the employee because an employer “cannot avoid liability for taking an adverse employment action based on the employee’s pure religious beliefs, unaccompanied by acts.”
Allstate agents were required to keep their branch open on Saturdays under a new policy. Two Jewish employees quit because of the new policy. The employees lost their religious accommodation case because they were not fired.
Costco’s interest in promoting a “neat, clean and professional image” outweighed an employee’s belief that her facial piercings needed to be displayed. The Court found that “religious accommodation amounts to an undue hardship when it would impose upon an employer more than a de minimus cost.”
A Muslim driver requested a longer lunch break on Fridays in order to attend prayer services. His employer permitted him to bid for another schedule; two were available which would enable him to attend services. The court found that the issue is not which Accommodation is better; the question is whether the employer’s Accommodation is reasonable. In this case the offered Accommodation was reasonable because the employer did not want to violate the collective bargaining agreement.
An employee assistance counselor, whose religion frowns upon gay relationships sues employer for failure to accommodate religious beliefs because it would not excuse her from counseling about gay relationships. The employer decided that the Accommodation was not reasonable because it would create an uneven workload. The jury awarded over $2 million. The Fifth Circuit reversed finding the Accommodation would cause an undue hardship.
A jury awarded $170,000 to a nursing administrator who was barred from applying to a position at a nursing home because she was not a member of the Church of Christ. The Sixth Circuit reversed finding that the employee did not meet State certification requirements for the position. She lacked management experience required by the State.
While the 10th Circuit found that the Church’s actions could be viewed as “offensive” and incorrect, the church autonomy doctrine “prohibits civil court review of internal church disputes involving matters of faith, doctrine, church governance and policy” made for ecclesiastical and not secular reasons.