Hey Compliance Warriors!
Quest Diagnostics, a provider of medical diagnostic information services that aid in the diagnosis and detection of diseases, violated federal law when it refused to accommodate the religious beliefs of a long-term employee and subsequently fired her, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit it filed on September 24th.
According to the EEOC’s lawsuit, the employee, a phlebotomist, is a practicing Seventh-day Adventist who began working for Quest Diagnostics in 2008. The phlebotomist’s religious beliefs prevent her from working on her Sabbath from sundown on Friday to sundown on Saturday. Quest honored her request for religious accommodation not to work on her Sabbath for the first 10 years of her employment. But in her 11th year with the company, Quest told her it would no longer accommodate her. After the revocation of her accommodation, she was forced to call “out” on each Saturday shift she was scheduled to work until she was ultimately fired by Quest.
Such alleged conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits discrimination based on religion and requires employers to reasonably accommodate an employee’s sincerely held religious beliefs unless doing so would pose an undue hardship. The EEOC filed suit, Civil Action No. 3:20-cv-02939, in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas, Dallas Division, after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. In this case, the EEOC seeks back pay, compensatory and punitive damages, and injunctive relief, including an order barring Quest Diagnostics from engaging in discriminatory treatment in the future.
“This dedicated employee was placed in the untenable position of being forced to choose between her religious beliefs and her job after 10 years of successful performance for the company,” said Meaghan Kuelbs, a trial attorney in the EEOC’s Dallas District Office. “The EEOC is fully committed to enforcing laws that protect employees in the workplace from discrimination on the basis of religion.”
Suzanne Anderson, acting regional attorney for the Dallas District Office added, “This phlebotomist’s reasonable accommodation request was granted for 10 years with no apparent problems. We do not believe Quest Diagnostics can show that continuing this situation would have suddenly created an undue hardship on its business.”
The EEOC advances opportunity in the workplace by enforcing federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. More information is available at www.eeoc.gov. Stay connected with the latest EEOC news by subscribing to our email updates.