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Medical device manufacturer faces religious bias suit

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in Discrimination and Harassment,Firing,Human Resources

The EEOC has filed suit against Medi­­cal Specialties Inc., alleging it discriminated against Evelyn Lock­­­­­­hart because of her religion. Lockhart worked at the company’s Wadesboro plant.

She is a member of a Christian denomination whose practitioners are forbidden to work on certain days.

Lockhart had worked at the Wades­­boro plant for more than two years before her religion’s requirements conflicted with her work schedule. Tuesday, Oct. 21, 2008, was celebrated as the “Last Great Day” in her faith. She refused to work that day. The company fired her for missing her shift.

Lockhart filed a complaint with the EEOC, charging Medical Spe­­cial­­­­ties with failing to accommodate her religious observance. Efforts to mediate the dispute failed, and now the EEOC is suing on Lockhart’s behalf.

Note: To refuse a religious accommodation, an employer must show that accommodating the employee’s request would have created an undue hardship for the employer.

If Medical Specialties can show that it made that determination for sound reasons before it fired Lock­hart, it will win this case. But if it simply fired her without considering the reason for her absence, then it may have to get out its checkbook.

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