Bret, a Jew, told his agency that his faith requires him to forgo work on the Sabbath, which runs from sundown on Friday until sundown on Saturday. Despite that, management scheduled him to work some weekends and when he did not show up the agency fired him.  Here are the defenses the agency raised that were rejected. To begin, it claimed that the union contract prevented it from offering several accommodations, but …

the EEOC found that given the facts of this case that would not have been inevitable.  It called the agency’s claim hypothetical and noted that to prevail the agency had to show objective evidence of a violation, not a potential one.

The agency also claimed that if it scheduled someone else to work the employee’s sabbath hours it would result in high overtime pay costs, which would be an undue hardship. Again, when the objective evidence was examined, the agency could only show it had to pay for 1.71 hours of overtime on the weekends it did schedule someone in Bret’s place.

A third defense was that giving Bret every sabbath off would cause undue hardship in the small office he worked.  But when it failed to explain why it did not consider transferring him to a larger facility where the agency had admitted rescheduling would be feasible, EEOC rejected this argument too.

In the end EEOC found the agency failed to grant Bret a reasonable accommodation and that terminating him was an act of illegal disparate treatment. “Specifically, the Agency notified Complainant that he was separated from employment due to failure to meet the requirements of his position, i.e., flexibility. However, the evidence supports Complainant’s claim that he was terminated when he failed to work on days for which he requested a religious accommodation pursuant to Title VII.”

As a result, the agency had to reinstate Bret with four years of back pay, leave earnings, and an opportunity to get compensatory damages.

For more details on this case, check out Bret E., v. Louis DeJoy, Postmaster General, EEOC No. 2022002560 (2024). Or enter the words “religious accommodation” in our search box and you will find more than a dozen related posts, e.g., UNION REP TEST#2 (EEO Religious Accommodations)CHRISTIANS – 1, CBP MANAGEMENT –MINUS $28,600., CHURCH LADY SMITS DOD.

About AdminUN

FEDSMILL staff has over 40 years of federal sector labor relations experience on the union as well as management side of the table and even some time as a neutral.
This entry was posted in Religion and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.