$70,000 Settlement in Religious Discrimination Lawsuit Against Wal-Mart, Training Ordered

Monday, June 11, 2012

Question:  Would religious discrimination training have prevented this case?  See our trainings at http://www.hrclassroom.com.

Retail giant Wal-Mart has agreed to pay $70,000 and implement preventive measures to resolve federal religious discrimination lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).

According to the EEOC’s lawsuit, in 2009 an assistant manager at the Colville, Wash., Walmart faced discipline and threats of termination because of his observation of the Sabbath. A devout Mormon, the employee observes the Sabbath by refraining from work, and from 1995 to 2009, Wal-Mart accommodated his request for leave on Sundays. In the fall of 2009, the company revised its scheduling system and refused to continue accommodating him as it had done in the past and began to discipline him, logging each absence when he was unable to swap positions with other managers.

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 requires employers to provide reasonable accommodations to the sincere religious beliefs of employees, as long as the accommodations do not pose an undue hardship. After an investigation by EEOC Investigator Bryne Moore, and after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process, the agency filed suit (EEOC v. Wal-Mart, Inc. Case No. CV-10-0338-RMP) in the Western District of Washington.

Following a settlement conference with a U.S. Magistrate Judge, the EEOC and Wal-Mart agreed to resolve the lawsuit with the entry of a consent decree that provides $70,000 in monetary and other remedies, including training to human resource personnel on the subjects of religious accommodation and anti-retaliation.

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