Ensure delivery of religious accommodations

A Maryland furniture delivery company has agreed to pay a spurned job applicant $94,541 to atone for not granting a religious accommodation.

A year and a half ago, a Baltimore man accepted a job as a dispatcher/customer service representative at XPO Last Mile. The company’s operations manager told him to start work on Oct. 3, 2016. The applicant asked that his start be delayed one day so he could observe Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year. The operations manager said he thought that would be no problem.

Later that evening, however, the company’s vice-president of marketing called to tell the man the starting date could not be delayed. He withdrew XPO Last Mile’s employment offer.

The jilted applicant filed a complaint with the EEOC alleging the company violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act when it refused to grant him a religious accommodation. He alleged the company did not demonstrate that granting the accommodation would cause undue hardship on business operations.

When the EEOC’s conciliation efforts failed, the commission filed a lawsuit on the applicant’s behalf. That’s when the XPO Last Mile decided to settle the case instead of having to explain its actions to a jury.

In addition to paying the applicant, the company signed a three-year consent decree with the EEOC. Under its terms, XPO Last Mile must implement and distribute to all employees a detailed policy against religious discrimination and provide anti-discrimination training to all employees, with an emphasis on evaluating and providing religious accommodations.

The company also agreed to inform the EEOC how it handled all religious accommodation requests during the consent decree’s span.

Note: Title VII requires employers to evaluate all religious accommodation requests in good faith. When considering accommodations, employers may not favor one religion over another. Under the law all sincerely held beliefs are protected.

In order to legally deny an accommodation request, employers must show how the request posed an undue hardship to the employer.