Package Delivery Company Fired Jehovah's Witness Over His Request to Attend Annual Service, Federal Agency Charges
NEWARK, N.J. - Global package delivery company United Parcel Service, Inc. (UPS) violated federal anti-discrimination law when it fired a truck loader because of his request to attend an annual Jehovah's Witness service, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit it filed November 29, 2012.
According to the EEOC's suit, UPS failed to accommodate the request of a newly hired truck loader at its Saddle Brook, N.J. facility to modify his schedule so that he could attend the Memorial of Christ's Death, an annual religious service, pursuant to his beliefs as a Jehovah's Witness. The employee requested that he either start a different day, start later than his scheduled time on his start date, or be given an hour's leave during his shift to attend the ceremony and return to work. UPS denied his request, the EEOC said, requiring that he report to work as scheduled, and told him this was non-negotiable. When the employee refused to compromise his religious beliefs and attended the Memorial instead of reporting to work, UPS fired him. UPS also assigned him a "do not hire" status, and refused to hire him when he applied for a different position at UPS's Staten Island facility.
This alleged conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The EEOC filed the lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey (Civil Action No.: 2:12-CV-07334) after first attempting to reach a voluntary settlement out of court.
"Federal law requires employers to make reasonable accommodations for their employees' religious beliefs and practices," said Elizabeth Grossman, regional attorney of the EEOC New York District Office. "Where a request for a religious accommodation does not result in an undue hardship to the employer, the employee's request must be respected."
Ana Consuelo Martinez, trial attorney in the New York District Office, added, "The law protects employees from having to choose between their religion and their employment, especially when an employee's religious needs only minimally impact the employer."
The EEOC's New York District Office has jurisdiction over Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont, and portions of New Jersey.
The EEOC is the government agency responsible for enforcing federal laws prohibiting discrimination in employment. Further information about the EEOC is available at www.eeoc.gov.