MALISSA STOVALL v. THE COMPASS GROUP was a 2012-14 Alabama federal court case which involved a female African-American Jehovah's Witness named Malissa H. Stovall, aka Malissa D. Stovall, of Mobile, Alabama. Malissa Stovall, then age 53, was hired as an accounts receivable clerk by Compass in November 2008. Stovall repeatedly received poor performance evaluations, despite training and re-training, until she was finally terminated for poor performance on April 12, 2012. On April 27, 2012, Stovall filed charges of racial discrimination and religious discrimination with the EEOC. This federal lawsuit was filed in September 2012. In June 2014, the USDC summarily dismissed all of Stovall's claims.
Notably, Malissa Stovall's allegations included the claim that Compass forced her to use 1/2 day vacation time in December 2008, when it closed the office for 1/2 day so that employees could attend the company Christmas Party, which Stovall refused to attend due to her WatchTower beliefs. Stovall also complained that on June 10, 2010 that she had requested time off to attend a WatchTower Convention on Friday, July 2, 2010, but that her request had been denied due to being made at the last minute, plus the fact that July 2 would be one of her position's busiest days of the month. The USDC did not consider either of these "incidents" because both were time-barred since they occurred prior to 180 days when Stovall made her complaint to the EEOC.
GAUKHAR THOMPSON v. DELANEY'S RESTAURANT was a 2011 Fair Employment Tribunal of Northern Ireland employment discrimination case which is one of the most MORONIC employment discrimination decisions that we have ever read. This Irish Tribunal, which was composed of two females and a male named "Ebrahim", awarded Gaukhar Thompson £31,654.36 (probably then in the neighborhood of $55,000.00 USD) for unfair dismissal, racial discrimination, gender discrimination, and religious discrimination. We have no doubt that the Employer was not pleased with Gaukhar Thompson, nor her job performance, and was glad when she was gone, but we challenge readers to find sufficient discrimination of any type on behalf of this Employer worthy of anything close to a $55,000.00 judgment. Have we arrived at the point in history when a small business owner can no longer get rid of an employee whose work performance does not suit them without some liberal tribunal of IDIOTS labeling such as "discrimination", and handing a large chunk of that business to the former Employee?
Gaukhar Thompson is a female immigrant from Kazakhstan, who has been a Jehovah's Witness since 1996. Thompson started working as a cashier at Delaney's Restaurant, in Belfast, in January 2009. Thompson alleged that the owners eventually began to occasionally assign Thompson with certain management duties. In June 2010, the owner's son, who also worked at the restaurant, began to take over management of the restaurant from his parents. One of Luke Delaney's first management decisions was to cut Thompson's hours from 40 hours per week to 20 hours per week. The Tribunal was not able to point to any specific racial, gender, or religious reason for the cut in Thompson's hours, but assumed that Thompson had been discriminated against because Luke Delaney thereafter hired a new full-time employee and promoted a part-time employee to full-time status. Someone needs to inform the three IDIOTS on the Irish Tribunal that that is known as a "business management decision", not illegal employment discrimination. Now, listen to this statement from the Tribunal's decision:
"The MOST SERIOUS ACTION taken against the claimant was that Mr. Luke Delaney replaced [Thompson] as restaurant cashier with his girlfriend, Ms. Lucy Knowles. Not only did Ms. Knowles take over the duties of cashier, but she also appeared to exercise supervisory/management responsibilities that previously had been exercised by the claimant ... ."
MY LORD!!! What a fiend! Luke Delaney switched the position of the employee who handled the restaurant's MONEY from an employee whose work performance that he did not like to an employee whom he intimately trusted. Exactly what type of discrimination was this -- racial, gender, or religious?
Gaukhar Thompson was moved from cashier to working on the hot food counter. One day shortly thereafter, Delaney discovered Thompson missing from her post, and found her in the kitchen. On confronting Thompson, she claimed that she had went for a drink of water. The perturbed Delaney told Thompson that henceforth she was not to move from her post without first getting his permission. The Tribunal specially noted that, "No other employee in the restaurant was subject to such a restriction." Well, maybe that was not the first time that Thompson was discovered away from her post, and maybe no other employees needed to be so restricted. Once, again, MY LORD!!! This is a small family restaurant, not a Ford Motor Company manufacturing plant. Can the owner not exercise any managerial judgement? Again, exactly what type of discrimination was this -- racial, gender, or religious?
The Kazakh Gaukhar Thompson also alleged that Luke Delaney had sometimes questioned Thompson's English skills. Thompson claimed that Delaney had asked her if she knew the meaning of certain words. HOW DARE HE!!! The Tribunal didn't even bother considering that just maybe the immigrant from Kazakhstan, whom Luke Delaney had observed working his cash register for 18 months, just might have had occasional difficulties communicating with management, co-workers, and Delaney's Belfast patrons. Just MAYBE? No, instead, the Tribunal noted:
"This led the claimant to feel deeply concerned about her interactions with the general public and indeed anybody in addition to Mr Luke Delaney. She said that she was caused to feel that if he could not understand her, perhaps other people also were in this position. This led her to start to speak more slowly in an attempt to address this perceived problem emanating from the treatment she received from Mr Luke Delaney (maybe that was what Delaney wanted). No one else was treated in this fashion by Mr Luke Delaney. (No SH!T. Why do you think that was?) While most of the employees at the time of the events described were local, the claimant pointed out that not only were they not treated like this, but also Katie Zetay, who was originally of Albanian origin, but who having lived in Northern Ireland for 10 years was regarded as being "local" by Mr Luke Delaney, also was NOT treated in this fashion by Mr Delaney (and those IDIOTS thought that such proved that Delany was prejudiced against Kazakhs)."
With regard to Gaukhar Thompson's allegations of "gender discrimination", the Tribunal noted two supposed instances. The first incident was on October 12, 2010, when Luke Delaney questioned in front of other employees and co-workers Thompson's request for permission to go to the restroom. From above, we know that Delaney already had existing issues with Thompson being absent from her assigned post. Maybe none of the other employees required such monitoring. While Delany's conduct may have been "inconsiderate", and even "stupid", exactly how was it "gender discrimination"?
The second incident cited as "gender discrimination" by the Tribunal was simply ridiculous, but does give readers additional insight as to why Luke Delaney disliked Thompson. On October 23, 2010, Thompson had been scheduled to work, but Delaney had canceled her hours. Thompson went in anyway to collect that week's pay. When Thompson approached Delaney for her week's pay, Delaney told Thompson that he didn't have any money on hand, and angrily told her to leave, and not to return to the restaurant until he texted her that she could return.
Luke Delaney was apparently angry with Thompson over an issue for which the Tribunal makes excuse after excuse. Delaney followed Thompson out of the restaurant, where a contentious argument ensued. Delaney asked Thompson if she was also working for a company called MBT. Apparently, Thompson was training one day per week at MBT, which offered employment to such trainees if they completed that training satisfactorily.
Thompson then really set Luke Delaney off when she threatened to go to his father and step-mother about the way that she was being treated by Luke. Thompson alleged that Delaney then told her not to ever come back to the restaurant again, and that if she did, he would have her arrested for "harassment". Thompson then asked Delaney if he felt threatened "by a girl". Delaney responded, "You're no girl!" That, ladies and gentlemen, was the moronic Irish Tribunal's second cited instance of "gender discrimination". Here are the Tribunal's comments on the second incident:
"The Tribunal noted that another member of staff had been attending training one day a week for the previous six months without any objection being raised by Mr Luke Delaney, and when the claimant reminded him of this, he effectively told her it was none of her business (it wasn't). ... It is notable that this exchange was contentious and took place in the street, which was at the time busy as it was Saturday afternoon, and that Mr. Luke Delaney RAISED HIS VOICE. The claimant felt embarrassed and humiliated by the way she was spoken to in the street by Mr Luke Delaney. The claimant asked was Mr Luke Delaney threatening her ... The claimant asked him whether he could validly feel harassed by her as she was a girl. Mr Luke Delaney turned on the claimant and said "You're no girl". This made the claimant feel very upset and she started to wonder whether there was something about her that made people see her as masculine. The claimant described clearly her feelings of hurt, embarrassment and humiliation at this exchange. (GIVE ME A BREAK!!!)"
Incidentally, Thompson did text Delaney's step-mother after that encounter to let her know that Luke had just fired her. Thompson alleges that two days later, on Monday, October 25, that she received a text from Luke containing her work schedule for the following week. However, when Thompson showed up for work on Tuesday, October 26, 2010, Delaney informed Thompson that he had not given her permission to return, and when Thompson refused to leave, Delaney called the Police to have her escorted off the premises.
Jumping from incompetence to possible DISHONESTY is the Tribunal's handling of the issue of "religious discrimination". In the opening paragraph where the Tribunal makes much ado about how smooth things went between Thompson and Luke Delaney's parents, the Tribunal points out that Luke Delaney's parents had no problems with the fact that Thompson did not want to work on Sundays because Thompson attended a local Kingdom Hall from 10:00 AM until 12:00 PM. Its not until the next paragraph that the Tribunal mentions that the restaurant was NOT even OPEN on Sundays, until Luke Delaney later decided to do so.
The Tribunal found "indirect religious discrimination" on the basis that Thompson alleged that she had been told that if she did not work the Noon to 4:00 PM shift on Sundays that she simply would not be allowed make up those four hours on other days. No, Thompson was not fired because she refused to work Sunday afternoons. No, she was not otherwise penalized. Thompson simply was told that she would not be permitted to make up those unworked hours. Other employees who attended church on Sunday mornings did not complain, so, once again, where is the "religious discrimination"?
NOW, for the kicker!!! Working Sunday afternoons never even became a real issue, because Thompson's first scheduled Sunday to work was on October 31, 2010. Luke Delaney had the police escort Thompson off the premises on Tuesday, October 26. The Irish Tribunal NEVER MENTIONS that little interesting tidbit of info. The "religious discrimination" issue should have been moot, or considered minimally at most. Thompson suffered no loss because she wasn't employed on the upcoming Sunday. Even if she had still been employed, we have no certainty as to how Luke Delaney would have reacted to Thompson not showing up for work. Even if he had not allowed Thompson to make up the four hours, she would have suffered no loss because she would not have performed any work. Luke Delaney was Thompson's employer. He was not Thompson's father, brother, or husband. As we like to say in our neck of the woods, Delaney did not take Thompson to raise!!! If Thompson didn't like her job or her reduced earnings, then go find another job. In fact, Thompson was already pursuing other employment, so what was the problem?
Luke Delaney was a baker by trade, who had managed a small family owned restaurant for only a few short weeks. He didn't always exercise the best judgment, nor was he the world's best personnel manager. Occasionally, he acted "stupidly". However, Delaney later described Thompson as "aggressive" and "difficult" with the restaurant's customers. I don't doubt such given what info is available in this decision. I can find no evidence in the Tribunal's decision that Luke Delaney acted out of any religious, racial, or gender prejudice. He simply had arrived at the conclusion that he did not want Thompson as an employee based on his 18 months of observing Thompson's work performance. The only person who suffered OBVIOUS DISCRIMINATION was Luke Delaney, and that was at the hands of the three MORONS -- two females and an "Ebrahim" -- who sat in judgment of him.
PATRICK v. IH STERILE SERVICES was a 2011 British case which is included here because English employment law is very similar to American employment law, and we believe this fact situation would have been decided the same under U.S. law.
Patrick, a Jehovah's Witness, began employment with IH Sterile Services as a "sterile technician" in August 2010. At the time of Patrick's employment, IH Sterile Services employed "sterile technicians" under three different circumstances. Eleven employees already worked under contracts which provided for fixed hours, Mondays through Fridays. Ten employees, including Patrick, were contracted to work flexible hours and shifts as needed by the company. The company also used Temp Agency employees to fill in any gaps, especially on weekends.
At the time that Patrick was employed, he informed the company that he was a Jehovah's Witness, and that he would not work the Thursday evening shift nor any shifts on Sundays due to having religious "meetings" and "field service" on those days. The company agreed that it would "accommodate" Patrick's religious needs. However, four months later, in December 2010, the company decided to stop using Temp agency employees due to cost and quality issues. On December 20, 2010, Patrick was given a letter informing him that as part of the new scheduling requirements he would be expected to work according to a schedule rotation, and that his hours were subject to change. The same day, he was informed verbally that he would be expected to work weekends starting in 2011, including every other Sunday. Patrick protested that he was a Jehovah's Witness, and was required to attend religious services every Sunday. In early January 2011, Patrick's supervisor had a three-hours long meeting with Patrick, during which Patrick maintained that he was unable to work any shift on any Sunday.
The company tried to establish a flexible arrangement with Patrick and other employees. One of Patrick's co-workers attended religious services on Saturday afternoons, and that co-worker agreed to work Saturday mornings. The company also set aside a storeroom to act as a prayer room for employees who wished to pray during the week.
Patrick was scheduled to work on Sunday, January 9, 2011, but ask for and received vacation time for that Sunday. On Tuesday, January 11, Patrick approached his female supervisor to once again make his case that he would not work on Sundays. Patrick allegedly attempted to give her some WatchTower literature which supposedly indicated Patrick's inability to work on Sundays, but Patrick allegedly did so in such an aggressive fashion that she thought that the literature had been thrown at her, resulting in the literature falling to the ground and her refusing to pick it up. Patrick apparently retrieved his literature and followed that supervisor to her office, where Patrick closed the door, and took a seat in a chair which he allegedly positioned in an intimidating fashion. When Patrick began to complain very loudly, the supervisor asked Patrick to leave her office. When Patrick rose to leave, his chair went crashing to the floor.
On January 24, Patrick was terminated for failing to complete his probation period, despite his technically not having a probation period. However, Patrick's appeal of his termination for failing to complete his probation period failed, so Patrick followed up with this claim of direct and indirect religious discrimination against his former employer. The Employment Tribunal dismissed Patrick's claim of religious discrimination.
The Employment Tribunal ruled that all employees working under flexible contracts were required to work some shift on some Sundays, and that Patrick had been treated the same as everyone else. Although a special arrangement had been made for the co-worker who attended religious services on Saturday afternoons, his situation was not analogous to that of Patrick given that Patrick had not indicated that he was willing to work any shift on Sundays. The tribunal also ruled that the company could justify requiring Patrick to work some shift on some Sundays. The company's contractual obligation to provide sterile laboratory services to its customers on Sundays was a legitimate aim, and dividing the obligation to work on Sundays equally amongst all employees with flexible work contracts was a proportionate means of achieving that aim. The tribunal did not think that it was appropriate to exempt an employee who wished to attend religious services on Sundays from the obligation to work some shift on Sundays, provided that the employer treated its employees equally.
The tribunal also ruled that the reason for Patrick's dismissal was, in part, his conduct on January 11, 2011, which Patrick's female supervisor was entitled to view as "hostile and aggressive". Patrick's attendance record was also partial reason for his dismissal. In his five months with the company, Patrick had taken 15 days of sick leave, and he had been late 14 times.
RINELL READUS v. TERMINIX was a 2007-08 Illinois federal discrimination court case which involved an African-American Jehovah's Witness named Rinell Readus. Readus was employed in May 2002 by Terminix in Illinois. In May 2004, Terminix granted Readus's request to transfer to Orlando, Florida. There, Readus was told that he failed the company's test to enter their Branch Manager's Training Program -- a fact that Readus questions. Readus resigned in November 2004, but was re-hired in Illinois in April 2005. Readus was soon promoted to Service Manager. Thereafter, Readus began making inquiries about again testing for the Branch Manager's Training Program, but was not given the opportunity. In February 2007, Readus filed a complaint with the Illinois Department of Human Rights and the E.E.O.C.
The EEOC issued a Right-To-Sue letter in October 2007, and Readus filed this federal lawsuit in January 2008. Rinell Readus alleged multiple discriminations based on his African-American race, plus religious discrimination based on his Jehovah's Witness religion. Specifically, Readus alleged that he was forced to miss multiple religious services because he was required to work excessive overtime by supervisors despite the fact that he had informed those supervisors with his meeting times. Terminix answered the lawsuit denying all allegations of discrimination. Outcome unknown.
THOMAS BERRY v. MEADWESTVACO PACKAGING was a 2007-2011 Alabama federal court case which involved a Jehovah's Witness Employee named Thomas Berry. Berry was a resident of Georgia, who attended the Lagrange Georgia Kingdom Hall of Jehovah's Witnesses. When Tom Berry interviewed for the position of gluing machine operator with Meadwestvaco in 2005, he frankly told the interviewers that he was a devout Jehovah's Witness, and that he would not work during WatchTower meetings (then two weeknights and Sunday), nor during the three annual WatchTower Conventions. Since the operator position's hours were 7:00AM to 3:00PM, Monday through Friday, Berry was offered the position, and he accepted.
In March 2007, the operator position hours were changed to 12 hour shifts of 7-7, with days rotating differently each week. Due to Berry's low seniority, he was assigned to the nighttime 7:00PM to 7:00AM shift. Berry's new work schedule was going to conflict with at least one of Berry's weeknight WatchTower meetings, so, prior to the start of the new schedule, Berry attempted to get one of the daytime 7:00AM-7:00PM operators to switch with him. None of Berry's co-workers wanted his night shift. However, an "assistant operator" did agree to switch with Berry. When Berry confronted his supervisor with his problem, Berry was told that it was company policy that "assistant operators" could fill in for operators only during emergency situations, and that Berry could use his vacation time whenever his work schedule conflicted with his WatchTower meetings.
Berry's requests for vacation time were generally granted, but on the scattered occasions when they were not, Berry did not come in to work. This resulted in accumulation of company attendance policy violations, which Berry knew would eventually result in his termination. Berry scheduled a meeting with his supervisor in July 2007 to discuss the matter, but when the supervisor's previous meeting went into Berry's time, Berry left without meeting with the supervisor. Shortly thereafter, Berry resigned without talking with anyone at Meadwestvaco.
Three weeks later, Thomas Berry filed a charge of discrimination with the E.E.O.C., who eventually issued Berry a Notice of Right To Sue letter. In January 2010, Berry filed his own federal lawsuit alleging that MeadWestvaco constructively discharged him, while failing to accommodate his religious beliefs, in violation of Title VII. In March 2011, the USDC granted Meadwestvaco's motion for summary judgment, stating in part:
To satisfy its burden of reasonable accommodation, an employer must show that the employee was afforded a reasonable accommodation, or that the employer could not reasonably accommodate the employee "'without undue hardship on the conduct of the employer's business.'" ... ...
First, ... the court agrees with MeadWestvaco that substituting an assistant operator for an operator on a regular basis constitutes an undue hardship. As previously stated, an undue hardship is "any act that would require an employer to bear greater than a 'de minimis cost' in accommodating an employee's religious beliefs." ... When an employer is required to replace a trained worker with an untrained one, and the employer presents evidence that this replacement will cause inefficiencies and product quality problems, that is more than a de minimis cost. ...
Second, Berry argues that MeadWestvaco should have altered the work schedules of its employees to cover his shift. For example, Berry noted that Miller stated in his testimony, hypothetically, that MeadWestvaco could have had (1) "lead men" cover Berry's shift; (2) other operators occasionally "stay over" the length of their shift. ...
This is an undue hardship. The Supreme Court in Hardison explicitly stated that an employer does not have to treat other employees differently merely to satisfy the religious objections of a single employee. ... By forcing "lead men" to perform extra work, or by forcing other employees to work longer hours, MeadWestvaco would be discriminating in favor of Berry and against his co-workers. ...
Third, Berry suggests that MeadWestvaco could have "seen about some kind of a shift modification." ... However, the Hardison court emphasized that it is an undue hardship to force an employer to change the way it schedules its employees merely to satisfy the needs of an employee with a religious objection to the schedule. ...
Fourth, Berry argues that MeadWestvaco should have asked Foster to agree to a shift swap with Berry, rather than forcing Foster to work extra hours during the days Berry took vacation. ... Forcing unwilling employees to swap shifts with an employee who has a religious objection to the schedule is not required by Title VII. ...
CARL VALLEJO v. FOUR SEASONS SOLAR PRODUCTS was a 2006-11 New York federal court case. A Jehovah's Witness named Carl Vallejo was hired as a salesperson by Four Seasons at its Holbrook, New York company-owned retail outlet, in January 2003. Four Seasons manufactures and sells sunrooms via direct sales, so its salespersons are expected to call on perspective customers during evening hours and on weekends. Four Seasons allowed Carl Vallejo to take off two evenings during the week, and Sundays, to accommodate his WatchTower meetings.
During 2004, Vallejo took 18 vacation days, although he was only entitled to 14 days. Without providing the requisite 14-day notice, Vallejo advised Supervisor that he wanted to take off September 11, 2004. According to Supervisor, Vallejo failed to mention that this was to observe a religious requirement (probably the WatchTower one-day "Special Assembly Day). Citing the 14 day advance notice rule, Supervisor refused to allow the vacation day, prompting Vallejo to announce that he would take off that day just the same. In response, Supervisor suspended Vallejo's customer leads for 10 days.
On January 31, 2005, without the requisite 14-day notice, Vallejo advised Four Seasons that he would take the next week off so that he could attend a real estate investment training course. In the face of warnings that such a decision could cost him his job, Vallejo took the vacation time without authorization. Thereafter, Vallejo absented himself from work for four months.
Around July 2005, Store Manager allowed Vallejo to work a few leads. When Vallejo requested more, Store Manager asked Vallejo when he was going to come back full-time. Vallejo neither answered the Store Manager's direct question, nor his email follow-up. After not having heard from Carl Vallejo in nearly four months, and having covered Vallejo with health insurance the entire time, Four Seasons formally terminated Vallejo in October 2005.
In April 2006, Vallejo filed an administrative complaint with the New York Division of Human Rights charging Four Seasons with unlawful discriminatory practice in violation of the New York State Human Rights Law. The DHR subsequently dismissed this complaint for want of probable cause. In July 2007, Vallejo filed a federal lawsuit alleging (1) disparate treatment; (2) failure to accommodate; and (3) retaliation, in violation of Title VII and New York state law. In March 2011, the USDC granted Four Seasons motion for summary judgment -- for obvious reasons.
RODNEY L. JOHNSON v. AT&T was a 2008-11 Texas state court case which involved an extremely devoted Jehovah's Witness, named Rodney L. Johnson, whom I'm guessing holds the position of "Ministerial Servant" (deacon) in the Elam, Texas Kingdom Hall of Jehovah's Witnesses. Rodney Johnson began working for AT&T in 1996. In 2006, Johnson began working in the Billing Department as a Supervisor. Johnson was terminated in May 2008 -- allegedly due to ongoing performance issues. In October 2008, Johnson filed with E.E.O.C. a complaint in which he alleged religious discrimination, sex discrimination, and retaliation. Details thereafter are uncertain, but around January 2010, a state rather than federal lawsuit was filed, but was dismissed on AT&T's motion for summary judgment. Johnson's motion for a new trial was granted in June 2010, but again was dismissed on AT&T's motion for summary judgment. In May 2011, Johnson filed a pro se appeal from which the details of this summary are painfully extracted. Outcome unknown.
Rodney L. Johnson's allegation of religious discrimination apparently centers around one single instance in which he had to work late on a "meeting night". While Johnson alleges possible elements of a hostile work environment, he apparently makes no legal claim of such. Johnson alleges that, in April 2007, his supervisor "began displaying disdain for Rodney's religious beliefs and requested that he not proselytize on the job." (How dare she!!!) The supervisor allegedly stated to Johnson,"Jehovah's Witnesses better not knock on my door!"
On Thursday, April 3, 2008, a billing problem arose later in the day, and Johnson's supervisor directed him to do certain things toward solving that problem. Knowing that such would require him to work late and miss part or all of a Kingdom Hall "meeting' that night, Johnson asked supervisor if it would be okay to have the responsible underling to stay late and help him. Supervisor denied his request despite knowing that Thursday was one of Johnson's "meeting nights". However, supervisor did allow Rodney Johnson to immediately cell-phone Elder Dan Eggers of the Elam Congregation of Jehovah's Witnesses to let Dan Eggers know that Johnson would not be able to be the reader that evening at the "book study". (Hopefully, there was some other attendee that evening who knew how to read outloud the WatchTower publication's fourth grade level English.)Supervisor later impliedly complimented Johnson on his devotion to his WatchTower meetings, and then told Johnson that he needed to "apply that same principle to this job" -- for which Johnson took offense, and complained about in his legal filings.
DONALD FAISON v. LEONARD STREET LLC was a 2008-09 New York City federal court case. Donald Faison was a Jehovah's Witness who worked as a "line cook" at defendant's NYC restaurant. Don Faison quit his job, and thereafter filed a federal discrimination lawsuit alleging constructive discharge due to a hostile work environment, retaliation, and religious discrimination due to both failure to accomodate and disparate treatment. In his lawsuit, Donald Faison alleged that the Chef yelled, screamed, and occasionally threw kitchen items, and due to such, Faison felt unsafe. Faison further alleged that at the time of his hiring that he had informed the defendant that he was a Jehovah's Witness, and would need certain times off work to attend WatchTower meetings and conventions, and that defendant's management agreed to allow Faison time off. Faison claimed that once hired that the Chef refused to grant requested time off to attend a two-day WatchTower Circuit Assembly.
On defendant's motion for summary dismissal, the USDC dismissed Donald Faison's claims alleging constructive discharge due to a hostile work environment and retaliation, but allowed Faison's claims alleging religious discrimination due to both failure to accomodate and disparate treatment. The court ruled that the Chef's yelling, screaming, and occasionally throwing kitchen items were not directed only at Faison, and were not due to Faison's religous beliefs or practices. However, the court believed there was evidence that the Chef's denial of time off to attend the WatchTower convention, and the Chef's alleged statement to Faison that Faison had to choose between his job and his religion, may have amounted to religious discrimination. Outcome unknown. Case may have been settled after this ruling.
TERRA J. SINKEVICIUS v. DePAUL UNIVERSITY was a 2008-2010 Illinois Human Rights Commission decision. An African-American Jehovah's Witness, named Terra Sinkevicius, was initially hired by DePaul University Library as a Student Assistant, in 1999. Sinkevicius was permitted to work a "flexible schedule" to accommodate her WatchTower meetings and field service (door-knocking).
In 2004, Terra Sinkevicius was promoted to Librarian Assistant III, and was assigned dual roles as Desk Supervisor and Reserves Supervisor. In 2006, Sinkevicius was verbally counseled three times regarding her inability to meet the Libraryís expectations. In February 2007, the Employer issued Sinkevicius a written counseling for failing to meet the Libraryís expectations for customer service. In June 2007, Sinkevicius filed a charge of discrimination with the EEOC against the Library. In October 2007, the Library determined Sinkevicius was unable to successfully perform as both Reserves Supervisor and Desk Supervisor, so eliminated the Reserves Supervisor duties from Sinkevicius's duties. Sinkevicius was left with fewer work responsibilities, but her salary and benefits remained the same.
On December 4, 2007, while working on the "flexible schedule" intended to accomodate her WatchTower religious practices, Terra Sinkevicius was involved in an altercation with the Evening Desk Supervisor. A DePaul University Public Safety Officer had to physically separate Sinkevicius and the Evening Desk Supervisor. In order to minimize future contact between Sinkevicius and the Evening Desk Supervisor, Sinkevicius was notified that as of February 6, 2008, she would be required to work a regular schedule. The Library still accommodated Sinkeviciusís religious practices by allowing Sinkevicius to leave work when necessary to meet her religious obligations. However, Sinkevicius was required to make up any lost time using vacation time and floating holidays.
On February 14, 2008, Terra J. Sinkevicius filed a charge of discrimination with the Illinois Human Rights Commission in which she alleged that, in October 2007, that DePaul University demoted her because of her African-American race, and in retaliation for having filed a charge of discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, and that the Library had failed to accommodate her Jehovah Witness religion in violation of Illinois state law. In July 2009, the Illinois Human Rights Commission dismissed Sinkevicius's case for Lack of Substantial Evidence. On appeal, in March 2010, a Commission Tribunal sustained the dismissal, stating that Sinkevicius had presented no substantial evidence that she had been demoted because she was African-American , nor was there is any substantial evidence that the Employer failed to accommodate Sinkeviciusís religion.The Tribunal stated, in part:
The Employer began documenting the Petitionerís poor performance in her dual roles in August 2006. The Petitioner had received counseling for her poor performance on at least four separate occasions before the Employer decided to relieve the Petitioner of half of her duties. ... The evidence shows that prior to February 6, 2008, the Employer had accommodated the Petitioner in the practice of her religion by allowing her to work a flexible schedule. The evidence shows the Employer discontinued the flexible schedule as of February 6, 2008, in order to minimize the Petitionerís contact with the Evening Desk Supervisor ... .
CHARLES F. MILLER v. HSBC FINANCE CORP was a 2007-10 South Carolina court case. Charles F. Miller, alias John Miller, is a Jehovah's Witness living in Elgin, South Carolina. Miller began working as a mortgage/loan officer for a company eventually purchased by HSBC, in Columbia, SC, in 1999. HSBC had been Miller's employer since 2004.
In 2006, the approximately 67 years-old Miller receive a below average performance rating due to his failing to meet a variety of production goals. The first few months of 2007 did not go much better, and Miller was facing possible termination due to poor performance. During 2007, employees at Miller's work location were required to work late hours on three weekday evenings of Mondays through Thursdays. Miller refused to work Monday and Thursday evenings due to WatchTower meetings on those nights. At a meeting with the HSBC District Manager and Office Manager in mid May 2007, during which all of the above was discussed, Miller left with the impression that he had been terminated because he had refused to work late on Mondays and Thursdays, so Miller did not return to work. HSBC denied such, and alleged job abandonment. However, Miller's termination was coded as "inability to perform", and he was paid a severance of $4772.50.
In June 2007, Miller filed a discrimination complaint with the EEOC and the South Carolina Human Affairs Commission alleging both religious discrimination and age discrimination. EEOC issued a Right To Sue Letter in March 2008, and this federal lawsuit followed. In August 2009, the USDC granted HSBC's motion for summary judgment on Miller's claim of age discrimination, but denied such on the claim of religious discrimination. In a January 2010 jury trial, John Miller won on the issue of failure to accommodate his religious obligations, but lost on his claim of religious discrimination. Miller was awarded $66,650.82 for back pay, $10,130.08 for prejudgment interest, $67,094.10 for attorney's fees, and $3708.02 for expenses.
KEVIN MAULDIN v. HALLIBURTON is an ongoing 2008 Texas federal court case. In July 2008, an African-American Jehovah's Witness, named Kevin Mauldin, filed a federal lawsuit in which he alleged that Halliburton-Baroid, of Tyler, Texas, had discriminated against him on the basis of both his African-American race, and his Jehovah's Witnesses religion, during the 15 months he was employed from June 2006 until September 2007. Kevin Mauldin alleges that he was wrongfully fired "on trumped-up false charges that he was trying to be paid for work he didn't do."
Interestingly, Mauldin's lawsuit complains that he was allegedly discriminated against in that he was forced to work rather than attend religious meetings at his Kingdom Hall of Jehovah's Witnesses, but at the same time the lawsuit complains that Mauldin lost overtime pay because his hours as a "truck driver" were reduced from 15 hours per day to 12 hours per day. Mauldin alleges that he was subjected to "racial harassment and offensive work conditions." The lawsuit claims, "Offensive racial jokes were told in [Kevin Mauldin's] presence by his manager and others. The manager also displayed a Confederate flag on his desk, which plaintiff found offensive."
Assuming, as the district court did, that Bush established a prima facie case of discrimination based on a failure to accommodate religious beliefs, we conclude that summary judgment was proper because Regis offered a reasonable accommodation.
The phrase "reasonable accommodation" is not defined and turns on the facts and circumstances of the case. ... The Supreme Court has stated that compliance with Title VII does not require an employer to give an employee a choice among several accommodations; nor is the employer required to demonstrate that alternative accommodations proposed by the employee constitute undue hardship. ...
Here, Regis offered Bush a reasonable accommodation. When it required her to cover shifts every other Sunday, it started the shift after her religious services had concluded. And as soon as the services changed times, Regis gave Bush Sundays off to accommodate the services. In addition, Regis permitted Bush to swap shifts to allow her to attend religious conventions. ...
Bush argues that the Sunday shift prevented her from doing field service with her family, which constituted a bona fide religious belief. The record, however, indicates that field service was not required to be performed on Sundays; rather, that was the day Bush and her family wished to perform field service. An employee has a duty to make a good faith attempt to accommodate her religious needs through means offered by the employer. ... In this case, it does not appear that Bush made any such effort. ... ...
Upon review, we conclude that the district court properly granted summary judgment on this [retaliation] claim because Bush failed to establish that she suffered an adverse action. None of the instances Bush identified rise to the level of an adverse action because none would have discouraged a reasonable employee from making the discrimination charge. In fact, according to the evidence presented, none of these instances deterred Bush from filing her complaint.
Even if Bush established a prima facie case, Regis proffered legitimate nondiscriminatory reasons, which Bush has not argued are a pretext for discrimination. ...
EEOC v. AT&T was a $1,307,597.00 2007 Arkansas federal appellate court decision that involved two Jehovah's Witness Employees, named Glenn Owen and Jose Gonzalez. The two Jehovah's Witness Employees, who just so happen to be brothers-in-law, were employed as customer service technicians at AT&T's Jonesboro, Arkansas location. Owen had worked for AT&T for 5+ years, and Gonzalez had worked for AT&T for 8+ years .
In January 2005, the two JW brothers-in-law requested time off on a Friday in July 2005, so that they could attend the annual three-day weekend WatchTower Convention. Although AT&T had "accommodated" Owen's and Gonzalez's requests in years past, AT&T declined Owen's and Gonzalez's requests in 2005. Owen and Gonzalez attended the WatchTower Convention anyway. On returning to work, both employees were initially suspended, and then fired a couple weeks later. Glenn Owen and Jose Gonzalez filed a religious discrimination claim with EEOC, which after investigation issued a letter of determination finding probable cause that both men had been denied a reasonable accommodation because of their religious beliefs. The EEOC then filed this federal lawsuit on behalf of the two JWs. In the 2007 ruling, in which AT&T's motion for summary judgment was denied, the USDC explained the conflict:
"In keeping with its 2004 agreement with the Communication Workers of America Union, the Center implemented a procedure for employees to schedule vacation time. In October or November of each year, management circulated a vacation schedule for the following year. The employees indicated on the master schedule the days or weeks that they planned to take as vacation. The employees were allowed to choose their vacation days in order of seniority. After the master schedule was complete, an employee could still ask for other days off by submitting a vacation request form. According to AT&T, during the summer months, only one technician per day could take off. If a request were made for a day that no other employee was scheduled to be off, then that request would be granted, but if a request were made for a day in which another employee was scheduled to be off, according to AT&T, the request would not be granted, though the employee requesting that day could wait to see if the senior employee who had already scheduled a vacation day changed his mind about taking that day.
"As part of practicing their faith, Owen and Gonzalez attend a yearly Jehovah's Witness convention. The dates for the convention are announced early in the year, so they are always announced after the master vacation schedule has been circulated at the Jonesboro Installation and Repair Center. Thus, Owen and Gonzalez had to make a vacation request if they wanted that time off. The 2005 convention was scheduled for July 15-17 (Friday through Sunday). The only day of concern in this case is Friday, July 15, when both men were scheduled to work. They were not scheduled to work that Saturday. Customer service technicians do not work on Sundays.
"For purposes of the summary judgment motion, AT&T concedes that before July 2005 Owen and Gonzalez submitted multiple written and verbal requests to Jacob Garrett, the manager of the Jonesboro Center, for vacation time on July 15. The men approached Garrett about the Jehovah's Witness convention and its importance on July 7 as well. Garrett said that he would let them know about it closer to July 15.
"The decision had still not been made on July 14. Gonzalez spoke with Garrett that day about the matter by telephone approximately three times. Garrett and Phillip Farley, the area manager to whom Garrett reported, were working together that day and discussed the request made by Owen and Gonzalez. Garrett also discussed the request with Marty Benz. Benz was the manager of the Walnut Ridge, Paragould, and Blytheville Centers, but he worked out of the Jonesboro office. Benz and Garrett discussed ways the situation could be handled, such as getting the employees who were scheduled for vacation time to switch with Owen and Gonzalez, or requesting help from computer service technicians from other centers, as they sometimes would do in circumstances of a heavy workload. After reviewing the workload information and considering other factors, Garrett told Owen and Gonzalez on the afternoon of July 14 that 'the forecast doesn't look good', and he would 'try to do what [he could] if the load permits'. Later that afternoon or evening, Garrett informed them that the workload would not allow them to take the day off. Because Garrett suspected they might not show up the next day, he gave each man a directive to come to work or face serious consequences. Each responded that he would not be at work. Farley contacted the local union president, who called the men to reiterate that they would face serious consequences for missing work.
"Owen and Gonzalez missed work on July 15. Farley and Garrett suspended the men after an investigatory meeting. Farley recommended to the director of Installment and Repair that the two men should be terminated. The director followed his recommendation."
Per the USCA opinion:
AT&T moved for summary judgment, arguing that, as a matter of law, Gonzalez and Owen's absence from work on July 15 caused AT&T an undue hardship, and, therefore, allowing them to take a vacation day was not a reasonable accommodation. Because Gonzalez and Owen were not at work, AT&T had to "close the clock," or stop scheduling maintenance and repairs for the same day, at 10:00 a.m., long before the preferred 2:00 p.m. closing time, and it also had to pay extra overtime to the employees working that day. The district court denied AT&T's motion for summary judgment, declaring that AT&T "failed to show that there is no genuine issue of material fact as to whether accommodating Owen's and Gonzalez's religious beliefs would have caused it to suffer more than a de minimis hardship." The case proceeded to trial.
In October 2007, the federal jury of 9 women and 3 men ignored AT&T's defense and decided in the favor of Owen and Gonzalez. The jury awarded Jose Gonzalez $136,000.00 in lost wages and benefits and $230,000.00 in additional damages. Glenn Owen was awarded $160,000.00 in lost wages and benefits and $230,000.00 in additional damages. On appeal, the USCA also ruled against AT&T. The EEOC and the two Jehovah's Witnesses were elated with the largest ever religious discrimination judgement in Arkansas history. By the time the judgment was paid in July 2009, after appeal was unsuccessful, AT&T ended paying a grand total of $1,307,597.00.
The following unidentified comment was posted to a Blog about this case:
I would just like to comment as I was personally involved with this case. The facts released in this document do NOT reflect the actual events. It's obvious that everyone reacts without having 100% of the facts. Having sat through the four day trial and as a tax payer, I can't believe the verdict. Nobody mentions that every professional was dismissed from the jury. Anyone holding AT&T stock was dismissed....AT&T lost before the trial began...."big company VS poor little me"! The jury was made up of unemployed, self employed, and otherwise lower income homemakers who have not a clue of the needs of a company that has to provide customer service or pay fines and penalties to the state and federal government if service measures are not met. These two employees knew upon hire that the company and the title in which they were hired required 24/7 coverage. When the work unit is covered by a collective bargaining agreement and the number of employees are already scheduled off per the contract, the needs of the company providing prompt customer service is necessary.
REGINA L. ANDERSON v. U.S. DEPARTMENT OF THE TREASURY was a 2005-2009 federal employee EEOC decision which involved a Jehovah's Witness named Regina Anderson. Gina Anderson was employed by the Internal Revenue Service in Memphis, Tennessee. In 2005, Anderson applied for and was interviewed for a higher position which required working until 8:15 PM on weekday evenings. After being offered the position, Anderson replied that she could accept only if she was allowed to attend her religious meetings (presumably on Tuesday and Thursday evenings) and a college night class (on Fridays). When Anderson was supposedly "forced" to decline the promotion, she thereafter filed an EEO complaint alleging religious discrimination. The agency dismissed Anderson's claim after a supervisor claimed that during the interview that Anderson had only mentioned the college night class and not the two WatchTower meetings, plus that Anderson had not specifically asked for a religious accomodation. The EEOC affirmed the dismissal ruling that Anderson's night class did not have to be "accommodated", thus making the religious accommodation issue moot.
REGINA L. ANDERSON v. U.S. DEPARTMENT OF THE TREASURY was a 2000-2003 federal employee EEOC decision which involved a Jehovah's Witness named Regina Anderson. Gina Anderson was employed by the Internal Revenue Service in Memphis, Tennessee. Anderson filed a formal EEO complaint alleging that she was being subjected to a hostile work environment, beginning January 2000, because of her WatchTower religion, plus discriminated against because of her disability (allergies), when the IRS failed to make a reasonable accommodation, beginning in February 2000. The IRS ruled that no discrimination had occurred with regard to Anderson's religion nor her allergies, and on appeal, the EEOC affirmed.
"... In its reply brief, defendant argues that this is not a failure-to-accommodate case because plaintiff admits 'she was never forced to work in violation of her religious beliefs and was never disciplined for missing work for religious observation'. ... Nonetheless, the court believes this case belongs in the failure-to-accommodate category because, as noted below, plaintiff alleges she was discharged for repeatedly complaining about accommodation problems."In the present case, defendant concedes that plaintiff has sincere religious beliefs which potentially conflict with employment requirements and that defendant was aware of the conflict. Specifically, plaintiff must attend church services or meetings on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 7:00 p.m. to 9:30 p.m., and also on Sundays until 3:00 p.m. Plaintiff disclosed this information on her employment application as well as during her pre-hire interview with the store manager. These elements of plaintiff's prima facie case are conceded. Defendant does not contend that the requested accommodation would cause defendant undue hardship."Rather, the dispute in this matter concerns the reasons for plaintiff's discharge. This is not only an element of plaintiff's prima facie case, but also the ultimate issue. While defendant argues that it discharged plaintiff for a legitimate non-discriminatory reason, plaintiff has produced evidence from which a reasonable jury could conclude that her accommodation requests and/or her complaints to management regarding the failure to accommodate were a motivating factor in defendant's decision to discharge her. Plaintiff testified at her deposition that her immediate supervisor, Brian Kelly, repeatedly scheduled her to work during the above-referenced times. Sometimes plaintiff went over Kelly's head and succeeded in having her scheduled changed. Other times these efforts were not successful. On other occasions Kelly scheduled plaintiff to close one night and open the next morning, including New Year's Eve and New Year's Day, with the explanation that such scheduling was the result of plaintiff's scheduling 'restrictions'. Plaintiff also testified that Kelly's treatment of her worsened when she complained to higher level management about the scheduling problems. Kelly allegedly assigned plaintiff unusually difficult tasks and forbade other employees to assist her."Defendant's stated reason for discharging plaintiff is that she violated defendant's ethics policy which prohibits employees from, among other things, '[e]ngaging in personal, financial, or business relationships with suppliers or customers'.... According to Kelly, on March 27, 2004, plaintiff 'had just completed the how to clinic in aisle 4. She was excited and said she had 7 people participate. Then she stated she "got a job out of it."' ... Kelly viewed this is a violation of the prohibition against 'outside employment + solicitation', ... and reported the incident. The store manager, Jim Geers, interviewed plaintiff, verified that she had made the statement, and discharged her on this basis after consulting with the area human resources manager. ..."A reasonable jury might reject this explanation because Geers did not ask plaintiff what happened at the how-to clinic or whether she actually solicited or obtained work from a customer. Geers testified that the ethics policy prohibits employees from 'soliciting work or receiving work while you were on the clock doing side work'. ... He also testified that he understood, from Kelly's statement and the interview with plaintiff, that 'a customer came up to her afterwards, asked if she did painting and would she do some work for them'. ... A jury could find that Geers had no basis for believing that plaintiff had solicited work from the customer. Geers also acknowledged that he never asked plaintiff is she had actually received any work. ... In fact, plaintiff has testified that she never received any business from a customer, and that the particular customer at the how-to clinic never called her. ... Plaintiff also testified that her meeting with Geers lasted just one or two minutes, and that he was not interested in listening to her explanation regarding her 'I got a job.' comment. ... During this meeting, plaintiff says that she also asked Geers for permission to take off three days in June 2004 (approximately three months hence) in order to attend a religious convention, and that he denied this request although he had granted such permission previously during her pre-hire interview. ...
"Defendant's explanation for discharging plaintiff is further weakened by the fact that defendant's human resources manager, Mary Frankland, testified that an employee may post his/her business card on a bulletin board and tell customers, who inquire if the employee is available for hire, that 'I have posted something on the board, you should go over there'. ... According to plaintiff's testimony, she did nothing more than this at the how-to clinic."In addition to rejecting defendant's explanation, a reasonable jury might conclude that defendant was actually motivated, in whole or in part, by plaintiff's complaints regarding her supervisor's failure to accommodate her requests for time off. While there is no 'smoking gun' in this case, there is evidence suggesting that Kelly was annoyed with plaintiff's complaints. Plaintiff testified that Kelly once 'introduced me to a new vendor as the thorn in his side'."When Kelly heard plaintiff make the comment at the how-to clinic, another employee heard Kelly respond by saying, 'Good'. ... Kelly did not ask plaintiff what she meant by this comment, but he immediately reported the comment to the store's human resources manager because he wanted plaintiff to be disciplined. ... Kelly also indicated that he was not 'comfortable' with complaints plaintiff had made about him to this human resources manager."The material facts are sufficiently disputed such that the matter must be resolved by a jury. If the jury finds liability, it will be for the jury to assess damages. The court will not invade the jury's province by cutting off plaintiff's damages on the theory that she falsified her employment application. Defendant may submit evidence on this issue to the jury and request an appropriate instruction."
BRUCE LYTLE v. JP MORGAN CHASE BANK was a 2010-13 New York federal employment discrimination court case for which only limited details are available. Bruce Lytle, then age 49, of Jamaica, New York, was an African-American Jehovah's Witness, who was terminated by JPMCB around 2010. In his lawsuit, Lytle alleged racial discrimination and religious discrimination by JPMCB, while also failing to provide him with a requested religious accommodation for his work schedule, subjecting him to a hostile work environment, and unlawfully retaliating against him after he voiced complaints within JPMCB regarding the alleged discrimination.
One of Lytle's internal complaints accused a manager of referring to a group of predominantly African-American and Latino employees as "monkeys needing to learn new tricks" during a staff meeting. That manager was later reprimanded despite denying Lytle's accusation. Another of Lytle's accusations included a manager using the N-word during an overheard discussion with two other employees. That manager was fired, and the two "listeners" were reprimanded.
Lytle's lawsuit was dismissed in March 2012 by the USDC. The published Opinion mentions that JPMCB had in fact worked with Lytle to accommodate his religious meetings when scheduling his hours -- even adopting Lytle's own suggestion. When Lytle became dissatisfied with that schedule, JPMCB asked Lytle to submit three alternatives, which Lytle failed to do. On appeal to the USCA, the USDC's dismissal was upheld, with the USCA noting:
Lytle makes unsubstantiated assertions of bias and misfeasance by the Magistrate Judge, court personnel, and JP Morgan Chase representatives. Lytle focuses in particular on a purported effort by Magistrate Judge Cott to excise portions of the record that, Lytle asserts, reveal Judge Cott's bias in favor of granting summary judgment. Having reviewed the record on appeal in light of Lytle's various assertions, we conclude that all of Lytle's claims on appeal are baseless.