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EEOC Reports Religious Discrimination Claims are Rising!
The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has revised the religious discrimination portion of its compliance manual in light of an increase in the number of religious discrimination complaints. They issued a new Guidance which suggests best practices for employers.
Charges of religious discrimination files with the EEOC nationwide doubled from 1,388 in fiscal year 1992 to 2,880 in 2007. Religion is just now coming into the awareness of many employers. Practices have not been in place long enough for organizations to know what is a best practice, and what is not.
The religious discrimination cases that are filed with the EEOC often allege that employers failed to provide reasonable accommodations---including allowing employees to observe their religion at work, to take time off for religious purposes, and to wear garments or maintain body hair in accordance with their religion. Other common charges include employer harassment or hostility based on religion, or firing or failing to hire because of religion.
Recently, the EEOC brought a case in the U.S> District Court for the District of New Jersey against communications company Vonage America Inc., on behalf of an Orthodox Jewish employee, who alleged the company did not accommodate his desire not to work Jewish Holidays. On July 8th, 2016, the EEOC and Vonage entered into an agreement in which Vonage agreed not to discriminate against any individual because of the individual's religion, not retaliate against the Jewish individual, and to adopt and maintain written policies and procedures prohibiting employment discrimination. Vonage also agreed to pay the individual
$72,000 in damages.
The EEOC Chair Naomi C. Earp said that "Title VII of the Civil; Rights Act of 1964 seeks to ensure that applicants and employees enjoy the freedom to compete, advance and succeed in the workplace, irrespective of their religious beliefs."
As Fourth of July celebrations begin soon---we should celebrate living in a great country where workplace discrimination is protected!