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Woman sues employer for discriminating against religious beliefs

For some people in Indiana, religious beliefs are an important part of their lives. Following religious code in the workplace may never become an issue for many but for some these religious practices could become a source of contention if coworkers and management are not sensitive to the situation. In some cases, people may not be aware that they could be experiencing religious discrimination until after an incident has occurred.

Such was the case for one employee at a senior living facility in Texas this month. Because of her strong religious beliefs, the woman wished not to work on Sundays. At first, management was very accommodating and for a majority of the three years that she worked for the facility, she was not required to work on Sundays.

But when a new administrator joined the community, things changed. According to the lawsuit filed against her employer, the woman claims that she was summoned to speak with the new administrator regarding her work schedule. She claims that the administrator told her that because she was working in the healthcare field, God would excuse her from her religious obligations. She also claims that she was then given the ultimatum to work Sundays or quit.

Feeling that she was the victim of religious discrimination, the woman filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission which was finally settled this month. As part of the settlement, the woman will receive $42,500 in compensation and the senior living facility will be required to change the wording in its employee handbook to properly reflect Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 which protects a person from discrimination in the workplace based on their religious beliefs. The home will also be required to conduct annual training for three years on the laws regarding religious discrimination, employee's rights and types of accommodation in the workplace.

Source: Senior Housing News, "Senior Living Properties, LLC Settles Discrimination Suit with EEOC," Alyssa Gerace, March 19, 2013

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