Thursday, March 17, 2011

Belk, Inc. Settles Religious Discrimination Case

People differ in religious beliefs and practices, which the law recognizes and they can freely exercise, even in the workplace, without the fear of being punished by their employer. Under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, covered employers are prohibited from using an employee’s religion as basis when making employment-related decisions in the workplace.

In addition, they are also required to provide reasonable accommodation to their employees’ religious beliefs or practices, unless doing so will impose an undue hardship on their business operations.

A company that may have failed to comply with this law has recently settled a religious discrimination case in order to avoid possible punishments that may be given to at the end of the litigation process.

Belk, Inc. has agreed to pay about $55,000 and to provide other relief as part of the consent decree that was agreed on with the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).

The agency accused the company of religious discrimination because it failed to reasonably accommodate the religious beliefs of its former employee Myra Jones-Abid. In addition, the company allegedly terminated Abiddue to her religion.

According to the case, the woman was required to wear a Santa hat and apron at the Belk’s Crabtree Valley Mall store in North Carolina during the 2008 Christmas season. However, she refused to do so because her religion, Jehovah’s Witnesses, does not celebrate and recognize holidays. She was then terminated because of it.

Hopefully, the company will be more careful when dealing with employees in order to avoid facing a costly lawsuit in the future.