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EEOC sues grocery store for religious discrimination

New York shoppers may have heard that a grocery store chain that has locations in some East Coast states is being sued by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. The lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of North Carolina. According to the complaint, the store violated federal law by not providing an accommodation based on a worker's religion.

The complaint alleges that a man started as a meat cutter in June 2011. He is a Jehovah's Witness minister and elder and as such is required to attend church services and religious meetings on Sundays and Thursday evenings as a requirement of his religion. For this reason, the worker asked not to be scheduled during those periods. The employee says that the manager agreed to this request when he was hired. However, when the man transferred to another store in the same position, the new manager did not comply with this accommodation. The man was fired later in June 2011 because he wasn't available on Sundays.

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 mandates that employers try to make reasonable accommodations for employees' religious beliefs so long as such an accommodation does not cause the employer undue hardship. The EEOC is seeking back pay, past pecuniary losses, future pecuniary losses, compensatory damages and punitive damages. It is also seeking injunctive relief. The agency first attempted to make a voluntary settlement with the grocery chain.

If an employer discriminates against an employee for a reason that is protected by federal or state statutes, such as age, gender, national origin, pregnancy or religion, the impacted employee may opt to pursue a discrimination lawsuit against the employer. The employee may be able to receive back pay and compensation for other damages that he or she sustained.

Source: Salisbury Post, "EEOC sues Food Lion for religious discrimination", August 20, 2014

Source: Salisbury Post, "EEOC sues Food Lion for religious discrimination", August 20, 2014

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