South Carolina Logging Company Settles Religious Discrimination Suit, New Religious Suit Filed

June 26, 2018

In separate developments, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has announced the resolution of a religious discrimination lawsuit against an employer in South Carolina, and the filing of a new lawsuit against a New Mexico restaurant alleging religious discrimination.

EEOC v J.C. Witherspoon, Jr. Inc, DSC. The Alcolu, South Carolina-based logging company will pay $53,000 and provide other relief to settle allegations that it violated Title VII when it refused to accommodate a truck driver’s religious belief and fired him because of his Hebrew Pentecostal religion. The employee, who has been a Hebrew Pentecostal for about 35 years, observes a Sabbath which begins at sunset on Friday and ends at sunset on Saturday. When he was hired in March 2012, the employee purportedly informed the company that he observes the Sabbath on Saturdays and would need an accommodation of not working on Saturdays because of his religious beliefs. However, in December 2013, the company discharged the employee after he failed to work on a Saturday for these reasons, according to the EEOC.

In addition to the monetary relief to the employee, the two-year consent decree resolving the case requires J.C. Witherspoon to implement a policy to comply in the future with Title VII’s prohibition against discrimination based on religion; conduct training for its management personnel on Title VII and its requirement that employees be provided with reasonable religious accommodations absent undue hardship; and report to the EEOC on its accommodation practices.

EEOC v Blue Moon Diner LLC, DNM. The Farmington, New Mexico, restaurant violated Title VII by failing to accommodate a Muslim employee’s request to work while wearing a hijab, worn by Muslim women for religious purposes, according to the EEOC. The diner also purportedly constructively discharged her because of her religion. The EEOC is seeking back wages, compensatory and punitive damages, and a permanent injunction enjoining the company from engaging in any further religious discrimination, as well as an order requiring the company to institute and carry out policies and practices that eradicate and prevent religious discrimination in the workplace.