Steel firm settles religious accommodation suit

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in Discrimination and Harassment,Human Resources

Pittsburgh-based steel-industry supplier Magnetics International will pay $30,000 to settle a religious discrimination suit filed by an employee in Indiana who claimed the company failed to accommodate his need to worship regularly.

At the time Daniel began working as a laborer at the company, he explained that his Christian beliefs required him to attend church at least every other Sunday. Magnetics agreed to the arrangement, but Daniel’s religion became a polarizing issue.

When the company scheduled him to work on two consecutive Sundays, he reminded his employer of the conflict it would cause. According to Daniel’s complaint, Magnetics insisted he had to work as scheduled and offered no other possible accommodations. Daniel refused to work the second Sunday, and he was fired.

He filed a complaint with the EEOC, which tried to mediate the dispute. When those efforts were unsuccessful, it sued on Daniel’s behalf. Only then did Magnetics offer to settle.

Under the settlement, Magnetics must pay Daniel $30,000 and respond appropriately to all requests for religious accommodation for the next three years. The terms of the settlement also require the company to post a nondiscrimination policy, provide employee training and regularly report its compliance efforts to the EEOC.

Advice: Once you make an accommodations deal with an employee, stick with it. Changing the terms later can easily provoke a lawsuit.

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