Durham-based educational testing firm Measurement Inc. has agreed to pay $110,000 to settle an EEOC religious discrimination suit filed on behalf of former employee Jacqueline Dukes.
Dukes belongs to a Christian denomination known as the Children of Yisrael, whose members observe the traditional Jewish Sabbath from sundown Friday to sundown Saturday. In accordance with her beliefs, Dukes refused to work during those times.
According to the EEOC complaint, Measurement Inc. fired her instead of exploring reasonable accommodations.
The EEOC tried to resolve the matter through its conciliation process, but failed to reach an agreement with the company. That’s when it sued on Dukes’ behalf.
That got’s attention, and the company elected to settle before the case went before a jury.
In addition to the $110,000 in back pay and compensatory damages, Measurement Inc. agreed to a three-year consent decree that prohibits further discrimination and requires anti-religious discrimination training for managers and supervisors.
Note: Title VII of the Civil Rights Act requires employers to provide reasonable accommodations so employees can practice their religions, as long as the accommodations don’t cause an undue burden to the employer.
Advice: If you can’t reach an agreement with an employee on religious accommodations, be prepared to show what accommodations you explored, how much each would have cost and whether you or the employee rejected the accommodation.