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January 16, 2014

Touting Religion as a Job Requirement

It is pretty straightforward that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits discrimination on the basis of religion.  This would include forcing employees to conform to a particular religion, which is what one employer did.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) recently settled a charge of religious discrimination by Dynamic Medical Services, Inc. (DMS) of Miami, providers of medical and chiropractic services.  The EEOC charge stated:

“DMS required Norma Rodriguez, Maykel Ruz, Rommy Sanchez, Yanileydis Capote and other employees to spend at least half their work days in courses that involved Scientology religious practices, such as screaming at ashtrays or staring at someone for eight hours without moving.  The company also instructed employees to attend courses at the Church of Scientology.  Additionally, the company required Sanchez to undergo an “audit” by connecting herself to an “E-meter,” which Scientologists believe is a religious artifact, and required her to undergo “purification” treatment at the Church of Scientology.”

When employees, Rodriguez and Sanchez refused to participate in Scientology religious practices and did not want to conform to Scientology religious beliefs, they were terminated.  DMS will pay $170,000 to the four named claimants and four other class members to settle the lawsuit as well as meet other criteria for resolution.

It is against the law for an employer to mandate employee participation in, or the practice of, a specific religion, as well as refusing to accommodate an employee who requests to be excused, because of objecting to the practices.    Employers should be sure they have a current anti-discrimination policy explaining employees’ rights to be free of discrimination of any kind.  The EEOC is diligent about addressing these types of charges.  Be assured, employers violating such federal laws will be held accountable.

Need help with your employee handbook?   HRN is here for you!

 

Source:  www.eeoc.gov

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