Employee’s Medical Leave Can Be An Adverse Employment Action If Caused By Discriminatory Comments

A recent case out of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois demonstrates how a supervisor’s repeated derogatory comments about an employee’s Middle Eastern background and religion that forced her to take medical leave became a triable discrimination claim.  Odisho v. U.S. Bancorp, Inc., No. 16 C 11121 (N.D. Ill. 7/24/19). Juliet Odisho worked as a Structured Finance Analyst for US Bank (“Bank”) where she reported to...
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Employee Grooming Standards: Ensuring Your Policy Complies With Title VII

Last week, as many readers are likely aware, a high school wrestling referee in New Jersey ordered an African American student wrestler tocut his dreadlocksimmediately prior to a match, or else forfeit the match.  According to the referee, the dreadlocks and head covering the wrestler offered to wear violated the league’s rules.  A video of the controversial haircut hit the internet, quickly inciting responses from many people that the...
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Employment Law Test, Question Two.

Darrell VanDeusen
Darrell VanDeusen
09/13/2018
Ok, class, today’s quiz involves religious discrimination.  There’s been a lot of discussion in the news lately about when it is acceptable to act on your religious beliefs regardless of how your actions affect the interests of others.  This becomes a bit tricky when employment discrimination law says you cannot treat people differently, but then someone claims that their religious views require it. For example, “my religion doesn’t permit...
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Louisiana Judge Holds That Jewish Heritage Can Be Basis For Race Discrimination Claim

Recently, a federal magistrate judge in Louisiana denied a motion to dismiss in a case in which the defendant is alleged to have refused to hire a football coach because of his “Jewish blood.”  Bonadona v. Louisiana College (W.D. La. July 13, 2018). The case involves Joshua Bonadona, the son of a Jewish mother and a Catholic father. Though Bonadona was raised in the Jewish religion, he converted to Christianity while attending Louisiana College...
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Mark of the Beast

How does an employer comply with a statutory requirement that an employee says conflicts with a sincerely held religious belief?  This issue has come up when an employee is fired after refusing to produce a social security number for religious reasons.  Courts considering religious discrimination claims in this context have uniformly held that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act (“Title VII”) does not require an employer to accommodate an...
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Fourth Circuit Affirms Finding that Coal Mine Failed to Accommodate Fears of "Mark of the Beast"

Kollman & Saucier
Kollman & Saucier
06/14/2017
The balance between individual religious beliefs and technology in the workforce can be a tricky one to strike.  The Fourth Circuit recently addressed potential ramifications of failing to strike that balance appropriately in its decision in EEOC v. Consol Energy, Inc. No. 16-1406 (4th Cir. June 12, 2017). Beverly Butcher worked as a coal miner at the Robinson Run Mine in West Virginia for 37 years with no record of performance issues.  Butcher...
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And You knew it was Porn, How?

Darrell VanDeusen
Darrell VanDeusen
12/29/2016
Religious workplace accommodations are most times not so difficult to accomplish.  An employee needs a quiet place to pray at work.  No problem.  Another worker wants to change his work day by one hour on Friday during the winter months so he can make it home by sun down.  That’s doable.  The rule under Title VII is that an employer must make a reasonable accommodation to permit an employee to observe the tenets of his or her religious...
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Moral and Ethical Opposition to Flu Vaccine Not a Religious Belief

Clifford Geiger
Clifford Geiger
08/17/2016
Title VII prohibits discrimination on the basis of religion and requires employers to make reasonable accommodations for religious beliefs and practices.  Protection covers not only religious beliefs that are traditionally associated with some organized religion, but beliefs that may be new, uncommon, or not even part of an organized church or sect. Courts sometimes are required to sort out whether a particular belief is “religious.”  For...
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EEOC Provides Guidance Regarding Muslim and Middle Eastern Employees

On the heels of the recent terrorist attacks in Paris and San Bernardino, EEOC Chair Jenny R. Yang recently issued a statement to “Address Workplace Discrimination Against Individuals Who Are, or Are Perceived to Be, Muslim or Middle Eastern.” Along with the statement, the EEOC released two “resource documents” to provide guidance to employees and employers on how to handle workplace situations involving discrimination against individuals...
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Name Calling, Prayer Circle, and Social Shunning Help Revive Discrimination Claims

Reversing a decision it described as “replete with error,” the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals has revived an employee’s claims of retaliation, and religion- and national origin-based hostile work environment.  Huri v. Office of the Chief Judge of the Circuit Cir. Ct. of Cook Cnty., No. 12-2217 (7th Cir. Oct. 21, 2015). Fozyia Huri, a Muslim from Saudi Arabia, began working for the Circuit Court of Cook County, Illinois in 2000.  Huri...
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