Pediatrics 2000 was sued by the EEOC for firing one of their employees because she asked for a simple religious accommodation.
The employee asked to be allowed to not participate in a company party that was scheduled around Christmas of last year. As a Jehovah’s Witness, attending a holiday party (or any party with excessive drinking and dancing) would have violated her religion.
The pediatric health services company let other employees decline to attend the party for reasons unrelated to religion, so it seems as if this employee would be fine — right?
They Said What?
The employee was texted by the company’s owner, who told her that it was her last day on the job and that Pediatrics 2000 “can’t tolerate religious privileges from anyone”.
Yeah, you read that right (unfortunately).
In case you need a refresher on the laws regarding religious discrimination, the EEOC states that “the law requires an employer or other covered entity to reasonably accommodate an employee’s religious beliefs or practices, unless doing so would cause more than a minimal burden on the operations of the employer’s business”.
We’re pretty sure that this employee missing out on the company Christmas party would have put little to no burden on Pediatrics 2000.
The EEOC is suing Pediatrics 2000 for damages and lost wages for the employee, and they want current employees of the company to be trained in religious discrimination as well.
Other Options for Conflict Resolution
Is your company up to date in religious discrimination laws? You could avoid a costly lawsuit by educating yourself and your staff.
Companies can also avoid getting entwined with the legal system by turning to Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) before things go downhill fast as they did at Pediatrics 2000. Read up about what ADR is and how it can help you here.