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EEOC files religious discrimination suit against electric company

In California and in other states, it is illegal to discriminate against employees. When employees believe they have been discriminated against because of their religion or other factors, employees may take legal action to ensure that their employers comply with important state and federal laws.

Last month, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission filed a religious discrimination lawsuit against an electric company because it fired an employee who in advance requested a day off to attend a religious convention. The employee was a customer service representative and a Jehovah's Witness.

A representative for the EEOC stated that the employee's request was minor, so the EEOC was amazed that the electric company not only denied the employee's request for one day off, but that the company also took action to fire the woman for making the request. "Employees should never be forced to choose between their religion and their job," commented a director for the EEOC.

The federal law that the electric company allegedly violated is Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The act states that an employer cannot fire an employee based on religion and that an employer must make reasonable accommodations for employees to their religious beliefs, if those beliefs are sincere. Before filing the lawsuit, the EEOC attempted to reach a pre-litigation agreement with the electric company.

In the lawsuit, the EEOC requested that the court grant a permanent injunction against the electric company. The injunction states that the electric company cannot discriminate and fire employees because of religious beliefs. The lawsuit also requests that the court order the electric company to pay punitive and compensatory damages to the woman who was wrongfully terminated, along with any additional compensation for damages that the court deems fair and reasonable.

Source: jobmouse, "Power Supplier Fired Jehovah's Witness For Wanting One Day Off To Attend Religious Convention," Anneline Waldman, Jan. 27, 2012