Not only do employers have a legal obligation to reasonably accommodate employees’ religious beliefs and practices, but employees also have a duty to make a good faith effort to consider accommodations offered by their employer. Recently, the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of a Florida trucking company after a former driver sued the company for religious discrimination because he refused reasonable accommodations for his religious beliefs.
In this case, plaintiff told his supervisor that he could no longer work on Sundays because he needed to attend Jehovah’s Witnesses services. The company told plaintiff that it could not accommodate this request without suffering undue hardship because the nature of his position and the unpredictability of scheduling made it impossible for drivers to be guaranteed days off. After he was denied his requested accommodation, the plaintiff alleged that the company discriminated against him and retaliated against him by pulling him from his route for over a month, constructively terminating him. The court considered evidence which showed that the company offered to pull the plaintiff off the route and place him on a local day-to-day run which would give him Sundays off, and the driver refused this option. After the plaintiff filed a charge of discrimination with the EEOC in response to being pulled from his route, the company offered to simply give the driver his route back. Still, the driver refused their offers.
The court held that the company could not have reasonably accommodated the plaintiff’s request for Sundays off, but the company made a good faith effort to accommodate him by offering a different run that did not require Sunday work. When plaintiff refused this and other offers to accommodate him, he failed to act in good faith by filing a lawsuit against the company for discrimination and retaliation. Therefore, employers have a duty to accommodate religious beliefs and practices when possible, but employees also have an obligation to consider accommodations offered by the employer.
Our Birmingham, Alabama employment law firm has handled a number of discrimination cases throughout the State of Alabama. If you feel you may been discriminated on the basis of your religion, race, gender, nationality, age, or disability please contact us at (205) 588-0699 for a free consultation to discuss your potential case.