The EEOC is alleging that Menorah House, a Boca Raton, Florida,
nursing home, violated Title VII when it fired an employee who wanted time off
to observe the Sabbath. From
the EEOC's press release:
According to the EEOC's suit ... Menorah House denied a
religious accommodation to Philomene Augustin and fired her because of her
religious beliefs. Augustin ... is a Seventh-Day Adventist, and her Sabbath is
from sundown on Friday to sundown on Saturday evening. Menorah House had accommodated
Augustin's request not to work on her Sabbath for over ten years until
management instituted a new policy requiring all employees to work on
Saturdays, regardless of their religious beliefs.
Title VII requires an employer to reasonably accommodate
an employee whose sincerely held religious belief, practice, or observance
conflicts with a work requirement, unless doing so would pose an undue
hardship. An accommodation poses an undue hardship if it causes more than de
minimis cost on the operation of the employer's business.
When will accommodating the weekly Sabbath requests of an
employee pose an undue hardship?
If, however, an employer can schedule around the request
without adding employees or costs, or without forcing employees to swap shifts,
then the accommodation likely should be made.
If the facts as alleged by the EEOC are true, this
employer should have forsaken its across-the-board prohibition against
Saturdays off. Instead, it should have engaged in a cooperative
information-sharing process with the employee to determine if it could
provide a reasonable accommodation without incurring an undue hardship.
For more information on religious discrimination and
reasonable accommodations, the EEOC offers the following resources on its
Visit the Ohio Employer's Law Blog for more
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with offices in Cleveland and Columbus. For more information, contact Jon Hyman, a
partner in our Labor
& Employment group, at (216) 736-7226 or firstname.lastname@example.org.