Total Articles: 46
Ogletree Deakins • June 04, 2019
On May 21, 2019, the Federal Register published the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) final rule titled Protecting Statutory Conscience Rights in Health Care (Conscience Rule), which addresses the rights of individual healthcare employees who object to participating in medical procedures that violate their consciences, as well as the rights of faith-based healthcare institutions to provide services consistent with their religious mission and identity.
Ogletree Deakins • May 16, 2019
In Gaylor v. Mnuchin, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals recently held that a tax code exemption for religious housing of ministers does not violate the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. The decision has a direct impact on religious employers and their ministerial employees as well as a potential impact on secular employers that provide housing allowances for their employees.
FordHarrison LLP • March 11, 2019
Executive Summary: With Spring around the corner, many employers will begin to receive varying requests for religious accommodations related to the upcoming religious holidays. These requests often conflict with the employer’s work hours/days or employment duties. Employers who outright refuse an employee’s request for accommodation to celebrate these religious holidays may put the company at risk of a claim for religious discrimination. Federal and state laws do not require that an employee be given paid time off for a religious holiday. However, federal law does require an employer to provide a reasonable accommodation for the religious beliefs of an employee, if the accommodation does not create an undue burden for the employer. Courts look at a number of factors in determining whether the requested accommodation is reasonable. Each request for religious accommodation should be reviewed individually to determine if an accommodation can be made. If the accommodation cannot be made the employer must be able to demonstrate that the religious accommodation creates an undue hardship.
Fisher Phillips • November 18, 2018
In a case of first impression, a federal appeals court just found that an applicant’s request for a religious accommodation did not constitute protected activity under Title VII for the purpose of establishing a retaliation claim. Under the 8th Circuit’s November 13 ruling, the appropriate avenue to challenge an employer’s denial of a religious accommodation request under Title VII is by filing a disparate treatment claim, not through a retaliation cause of action. What can employers take from the EEOC v. North Memorial Health Care decision?
Fisher Phillips • May 16, 2018
A California federal jury recently decided that Emerson Electric Company owes prefabricated module manufacturer BladeRoom Group Limited $30 million in damages for stealing trade secrets to build a massive new data center.
Fisher Phillips • May 01, 2018
19th-century British poet Alfred Tennyson once said, “In the Spring, a young man’s fancy lightly turns to thoughts of love.” And while you might hold a certain amount of affection for your employees this time of year and want to show them how much you care, you might want to refrain from saying “I love you” to them. That’s because an employer who did just that, and encouraged its workforce to share the same sentiments with coworkers on a regular basis, learned the hard way that such comments are not necessarily appropriate for the workplace.
Ogletree Deakins • February 20, 2018
For the first time since a 2012 decision by the Supreme Court of the United States, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals elaborated on and applied the Supreme Court’s four-factor analysis to determine whether a position is properly considered a ministerial role.
FordHarrison LLP • January 29, 2018
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has announced the formation of the Conscience and Religious Freedom Division of the HHS Office for Civil Rights (OCR). The new division will review complaints from medical professionals who object on religious or moral grounds to participating in the provision of certain services and/or to certain patients. HHS has also released proposed regulations that would increase the OCR’s responsibility and enforcement power as to existing federal health care antidiscrimination laws involving protections for health care workers related to services such as abortion, sterilization, and assisted suicide.
Jackson Lewis P.C. • December 07, 2017
The United States Supreme Court heard oral argument in a case with potentially far-reaching implications for issues at the intersection of civil rights and religious freedoms on December 5, 2017. Masterpiece Cakeshop, Ltd. v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission, No. 16-111.
XpertHR • December 06, 2017
A divided US Supreme Court heard arguments today in a closely watched case that asks whether the First Amendment can exempt a business owner from prohibitions against discriminating based on sexual orientation because of his religious beliefs. In Masterpiece Cakeshop, Ltd. V. Colorado Civil Rights Commission, a Colorado baker claimed that requiring him to bake a wedding cake for a same-sex couple would violate his free speech rights.
XpertHR • September 14, 2017
Religious accommodation questions often present unique challenges for employers who are faced with determining whether they should bend their time off or dress code rules to accommodate an employee’s religious beliefs and practices. For example, a Muslim employee may request to pray during the work day, a Jewish employee may seek to leave early on Fridays for the Sabbath or a Sikh employee may want to wear a turban to work.
Goldberg Segalla LLP • July 11, 2017
Most employers know of the requirement to adjust any aspect of the working environment which may conflict with an employee’s religious beliefs. At the federal level, under Title VII, an employer must make reasonable accommodation for the religious observances of its employees, short of incurring an undue hardship. But what are religious accommodations? What proof may an employer request in order to establish that the employee is being sincere? The 4th Circuit recently examined a religious accommodation scenario that ended in an award of nearly $600,000 in damages and other benefits to the employee.
Fisher Phillips • June 15, 2017
Here’s some advice you probably didn’t think you needed, employers: you should avoid, at all costs, giving or threatening to give your employees the biblical Mark of the Beast. And if they think you are doing so, you should accommodate them if possible. An employer in West Virginia ignored this advice and will now have to write a $550,000 check to a former employee after the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed a whopping jury verdict earlier this week (EEOC v. Consol Energy).
Fisher Phillips • May 08, 2017
President Trump signed an executive order on religious liberty yesterday to commemorate the National Day of Prayer. Like many before it, the exact contents of this order were hotly anticipated, fueled by White House leaks and presidential tweets, with many speculating that the order would greatly affect employment and other civil rights laws.
Jackson Lewis P.C. • May 05, 2017
During a ceremony in the Rose Garden, President Trump signed a much-anticipated “Religious Liberty” executive order.
Nexsen Pruet • April 20, 2017
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission announced that it filed a lawsuit last month against a South Carolina company that allegedly refused to accommodate a truck driver’s religious beliefs. The employee apparently subscribed to a Hebrew Pentecostal religious faith that forbade him from engaging in labor during the prescribed Sabbath (Saturday). The EEOC alleged that the trucking company engaged in religious discrimination against the driver after he was terminated for refusing to work a particular Saturday.
XpertHR • January 09, 2017
Employers that require their employees to get flu shots must provide exemptions for employees whose religious beliefs forbid vaccinations or risk a lawsuit by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).
Ogletree Deakins • November 04, 2016
A federal district court recently ruled that an employer-initiated program known as Onionhead was a religion for the purposes of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. In Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. United Health Programs, No. 14-CV-3673 (September 30, 2016), the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York held that Onionhead (also sometimes known as Harnessing Happiness) “qualifies as a religion” under Title VII.
Littler Mendelson, P.C. • October 14, 2016
A New York federal court recently sided with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) as to whether a company’s internal conflict-resolution program was religious in nature.1 Because the program—called “Onionhead,” or occasionally, "Harnessing Happiness"—was deemed religious, the company was held potentially liable under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (“Title VII”) for seeking to impose its own religious beliefs on employees.
Fisher Phillips • September 07, 2016
In our last edition of the Healthcare Update, we reported that the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) had filed a June 2016 lawsuit against that Baystate Medical Center in Massachusetts, claiming that the employer did not reasonably accommodate the sincerely held religious beliefs of an employee who refused to take a flu shot.
Fisher Phillips • August 04, 2016
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the federal watchdog agency patrolling the nation for workplace law violations, recently announced its intention to target younger workers to see if they feel victimized by religious discrimination. To that end, the agency created a one-page information sheet released on July 22 intended to educate younger workers about their rights under federal law when it comes to religious discrimination, harassment, and accommodations. Because the gig economy uses a workforce that skews somewhat younger, it seems likely that you will need to understand your obligations with respect to this area of law or face legal consequences.
The US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has announced the release of a one-page fact sheet designed to communicate religious discrimination protections to younger workers. In addition, the EEOC will implement changes in the collection of demographic data from individuals who file charges with the agency, which may yield more precise information regarding religious discrimination.
Phelps Dunbar LLP • June 07, 2016
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) has filed suit against a Massachusetts hospital, alleging it discriminated against an employee on the basis of religion when it fired her for not complying with a facemask requirement after she declined a flu shot for religious reasons. EEOC v. Baystate Med. Ctr., Inc. raises unique issues of what constitutes a reasonable accommodation to religious practices under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (“Title VII”), as well as the scope of what is an undue hardship for employers, especially in the context of a health care provider.
Nexsen Pruet • July 31, 2015
Most employers know that Title VII prohibits discrimination against applicants or employees based on religion. They also know that Title VII requires employers to provide reasonable, religion-based accommodations to employees who express such a need. But a recent decision of the U.S. Supreme Court clarifies that an employer can also become liable for religious discrimination – even when the employer had no knowledge of an applicant’s potential need for a religious accommodation – if the applicant’s religious practice was a “motivating factor” in the employer’s decision against hiring the applicant.
This year Ramadan, the month-long religious holiday celebrated by Muslims worldwide, began on June 18 and ends on July 17. Because federal, state and local laws prohibit discrimination and harassment based on a job applicant’s or employee’s religious beliefs and require an employer to provide reasonable accommodations, US employers should make sure they understand the potential ramifications of Ramadan in the workplace and make any necessary accommodations by keeping these five tips in mind:
Ogletree Deakins • May 27, 2015
The Supreme Court of the United States is poised to decide a case that should clarify employers’ obligations to provide applicants with accommodations for their religious practices. Simply put, the question is whether applicants must notify companies of any religious beliefs that would prevent them from abiding by workplace rules or whether employers must provide notice of their company policies to assess whether a need for an accommodation exists. In Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. Abercrombie & Fitch Stores, Inc.—a case brought by a woman who wore a head scarf to an interview for a retail job for which she ultimately was not hired—the Court is expected to decide which party should bear this burden of notice.
FordHarrison LLP • April 13, 2015
Are companies legally required to allow employees to take time off for religious holidays, even if there's a backlog of work?
Franczek Radelet P.C • February 09, 2015
Several weeks ago, the EEOC secured a jury verdict of $150,000 in compensatory damages against an employer for failure to accommodate an employee’s religious objection to a workplace rule. But last week, the Sixth Circuit held that an employer need not provide its employee a religious accommodation if the requested accommodation violates federal law. These cases serve as a reminder that while an employer has certain obligations under Title VII to reasonably accommodate their employees’ religious beliefs, those obligations are not unlimited.
Goldberg Segalla LLP • September 17, 2014
Most employers recognize that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII) prohibits religious discrimination in the workplace and requires private employers to reasonably accommodate an applicant’s or employee’s religious practices and beliefs, subject to limited exceptions. Private employers with 15 or more employees are covered under Title VII. Many state laws also prohibit religious discrimination by private employers, and typically cover employers with fewer than 15 employees.
Ogletree Deakins • September 11, 2014
In a 2-to-1 decision written by Judge Edward Prado, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals recently chimed in on an employee’s claim that her employer failed to accommodate a religious observance, for which “she believed strongly that she ‘needed’ to be at church . . . as a religious matter.” The court in Davis v. Fort Bend County overturned summary judgment where the district court had found that the employee’s absence on a Sunday to attend a ground breaking ceremony for her church was not a religious practice. As the district court found and Fort Bend County argued before the Fifth Circuit:
Ogletree Deakins • August 27, 2014
Yesterday's post about the difficulty that courts have in dealing with religious discrimination, see Not Off to a Good Start and Onionhead: the newest religion? could not have been a better segue way to today's decision from the 5th Circuit, Davis v. Fort Bend County, (5th Cir. 8.26.14).
Ogletree Deakins • August 25, 2014
Six weeks ago, on the 12th anniversary of this blog, I indicated that I would see if last year's lack of posting would continue and whether or not it was time to give this blog a formal ending. Based on the last six weeks, it is definitely on its death bed.
Ogletree Deakins • December 17, 2013
As 2013 comes to an end, we have been considering a number of workplace issues that employers might face at the end of the year and the beginning of the holiday season.
Phelps Dunbar LLP • November 06, 2013
A United States District Court for the District of Oregon recently held that a Plaintiff may use anti-religious comments and workplace profanity as evidence in support of a religious-based hostile work environment claim.
Ogletree Deakins • January 14, 2013
A federal district court in Ohio has refused to dismiss a complaint for religious discrimination made by a hospital employee after the employee was fired for refusing to be vaccinated for the flu. The basis of the refusal to be vaccinated was the employee’s veganism. The Court denied the employer’s motion to dismiss, holding that the plaintiff’s beliefs were sincerely held and, therefore, merited protection under the law. Chenzira v. Cincinnati Children’s Medical Center, S.D. Ohio, No. 1:11-cv-00917 (12/27/12).
Ogletree Deakins • January 07, 2013
Writing from Austin, where almost every menu offers at least vegan alternatives, I hate to put a damper on what is surely going to be the quick take-away from a recent court decision refusing to dismiss the religious discrimination claim of a hospital employee fired for refusing to take a flu shot because as a Vegan the ingestion of a vaccine created from eggs would violate her ethical and religious beliefs. Chenzira v. Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center (S.D. Ohio 12/27/12).
Fisher Phillips • January 12, 2012
On January 11, 2012, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a rare unanimous decision for religious employers. The decision both clarifies that the ministerial exception is an absolute bar to employment discrimination suits brought on behalf of a minister based on employment decisions made by the employer, and illustrates that the ministerial exception may apply to a range of employees of religious institutions.
Fisher Phillips • April 04, 2011
It's been nearly two years since the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) issued a compliance manual update on religious discrimination. Religious discrimination involves disparate treatment, harassment, retaliation or refusal to reasonably accommodate religious beliefs or practices. At the time of the release of Section 12 of the new Compliance Manual on "Religious Discrimination" on July 22, 2008, the EEOC announced that it "issued this section in response to an increase in charges of religious discrimination, increased religious diversity in the United States, and requests for guidance from stakeholders and agency personnel investigating and litigating claims of religious discrimination." Since 2000, religion-based charges filed with the EEOC increased from 1,939 to 3,386 in 2009.
Nexsen Pruet • October 27, 2010
In recent months, plans to build a mosque blocks away from Ground Zero in New York
City have lead to a renewed focus on religious freedom in everyday life. In the workplace, Title
VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 defines the rights of employees and responsibilities of
employers, primarily by requiring employers to reasonably accommodate employees’ “sincerely
held religious beliefs,” observances and practices unless doing so would impose an “undue
burden” on the employer. Additionally, as in South Carolina and North Carolina, many states
have laws and constitutional provisions that afford additional protections for employees.
Fisher Phillips • September 09, 2010
Perception is often more important than reality, and perception can vary radically among people of different religions and national origins.
Ogletree Deakins • January 11, 2010
A former editorial writer for the Indianapolis Star who claimed that she lost her job because of her “traditional” Christian beliefs regarding homosexuality was unable to support claims of religious discrimination under Title VII, because she could not show that she met the legitimate business expectations of her employer.
Nexsen Pruet • October 30, 2008
Last month marked the seventh anniversary of the terrorist attacks on 9/11. There
have been numerous repercussions of that terrible day, including many related to the
workplace. For example, charges of religious discrimination in the workplace have grown
by 67 percent since 2000.
Fisher Phillips • October 03, 2008
In light of the ever-expanding number of religious discrimination complaints arising in workplaces across the country, the EEOC recently issued a new set of guidelines to assist employers in this area. The revised portion of its employment compliance manual provides an overview of religious discrimination law, and offers "best practices" for employers to avoid discrimination charges. Every employer should be familiar with this comprehensive publication, but don't worry if you don't have time to slog through 73 pages of material – we've done it for you.
Fisher Phillips • August 06, 2008
Many employers assume – incorrectly – that they can avoid all discrimination claims by simply treating everyone exactly the same and making no exceptions. While that approach will keep you out of most discrimination problems, it can still result in claims of religious discrimination. Here's why.
Fisher Phillips • October 04, 2007
While employers stay focused on profits and maintaining a competitive edge in today’s marketplace, religion has begun playing a major role in employee relations. Title VII recognizes the important role that religious freedom plays in our society and its protection goes beyond mere negative restrictions to impose an affirmative obligation to reasonably accommodate religious beliefs.
Fisher Phillips • September 07, 2007
Companies today are being faced with a surge of employees who are conscientious objectors to some part of the employer's business on the basis of their religion. Stories range from taxi drivers refusing to transport customers who are carrying liquor to cashiers refusing to service customers purchasing pork.