Tag Archives: religion

2017 EEOC Litigation Data Released

The EEOC recently released the national enforcement data for the 2017 fiscal year.  According to this report, the total number of EEOC charges received in 2017 decreased from 91,503 received in 2016 to 84,254 received in 2017.

In addition, according to the report, in 2017, the EEOC resolved 99,109 charges and secured more than $398 million for victims of discrimination in private, federal and state and local government workplaces.  Most notably, the EEOC received 6,696 sexual harassment charges and 1,762 LGBT-based sexual discrimination charges and obtained $46.3 million and $16.1 million in monetary benefits respectively for resolving these charges.

Retaliation claims remain the most popular claims filed. Race claims, Disability claims, Sex/Gender claims and Age discrimination charges round out the top five.  The total breakdown of charges by type is as follows:

Retaliation 41,097 48.8%
Race 28,528 33.9%
Disability 26,838 31.9%
Sex/Gender 25,605 30.4%
Age 18,376 21.8%
National Origin 8,299 9.8%
Religion 3,436 4.1%
Color 3,240 3.8%
Equal Pay Act 996 1.2%
Genetic Information Non-Discrimination Act 206 0.2%

In addition, the EEOC has also released the breakdown of claims received by state.  The top 10 states are:

   Type of Charge
Total Charges Retaliation Race Disability Sex/Gender Age
Texas 8,827 4,740 2,999 2,642 2,740 1,975
Florida 6,858 3,486 2,153 2,222 2,041 1,366
California 5,423 2,752 1,811 1,915 1,500 1,374
Georgia 4,894 2,434 1,864 1,362 1,596 807
Pennsylvania 4,516 2,133 1,195 1,647 1,293 1,118
Illinois 4,392 2,382 1,663 1,414 1,399 1,032
North Carolina 3,752 1,854 1,447 1,210 1,034 751
New York 3,690 1,711 1,095 1,052 1,142 858
Virginia 2,730 1,201 966 864 818 518
Tennessee 2,640 1,318 970 808 815 528

The full state breakdown of claims is available here.

NEW LAW – Birmingham City Council Passes Nondiscrimination Ordinance

On September 26, 2017, the Birmingham City Council passed a new nondiscrimination ordinance, which is the first of its kind in Alabama.

Under this new law, the City of Birmingham has prohibited discrimination on the basis of a person’s real or perceived race, color, religion, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, disability, or familial status.

This new law applies to housing, public accommodations, public education, and employment. There are only two exceptions for compliance — one for religious corporations and one for employers with bona fide affirmative action plans or seniority systems.

In addition, the new law creates a Human Rights Commission that will advise the Mayor and Council on matters related to eliminating discriminatory practices within the City.

The ordinance still needs to be signed into law by the mayor, in order for it to become effective.  However, the mayor has indicated that he will sign it into law immediately.

2016 EEOC Litigation Data Released

The EEOC recently released the national enforcement data for the 2016 fiscal year.  According to this report, the total number of EEOC charges received in 2015 increased from 89,385 received in 2015 to 91,503 received in 2016.

In addition, according to the report, in 2016, the EEOC resolved 97,443 charges and secured more than $482 million for victims of discrimination in private, federal and state and local government workplaces.

Retaliation claims remain the most popular claims filed. Race claims, Disability claims, Sex/Gender claims and Age discrimination charges round out the top five.  The total breakdown of charges by type is as follows:

Retaliation
42,018 45.9%
Race  32,309 35.3%
Disability 28,073 30.7%
Sex/Gender 26,934 29.4%
Age 20,857 22.8%
National Origin 9,840 10.8%
Religion 3,825 4.2%
Color 3,102 3.4%
Equal Pay Act 1,075 1.2%
Genetic Information Non-Discrimination Act 238 0.3%

In addition, the EEOC has also released the breakdown of claims received by state.  The top 10 states are:

Type of Charge
Total Charges Retaliation Race Disability Sex/Gender Age
Texas 9,308 4,633 3,244 2,775 2,765 2,000
Florida 7,610 3,530 2,285 2,221 2,332 1,661
California 5,870 2,937 1,905 1,912 1,560 1,517
Georgia 5,273 2,577 2,165 1,462 1,684 1,028
Illinois 5,072 2,327 2,255 1,466 1,325 1,633
Pennsylvania 4,564 1,964 1,228 1,646 1,255 1,198
North Carolina 4,372 2,077 1,705 1,384 1,265 885
New York 3,740 1,604 1,084 1,061 1,202 865
Alabama 3,371 1,211 1,865 647 934 503
Virginia 2,945 1,242 1,069 921 881 583

The full state breakdown of claims is available here.

Failure To Accommodate Employees’ Religious Beliefs Proves Costly

In 2013, two Muslim truck drivers were terminated by their employer for refusing to deliver shipments containing alcohol. The reason for the employees’ refusal – the employees claimed that transporting alcohol violated their religious beliefs. Following their termination, the employees filed a claim with the EEOC and, ultimately, the EEOC filed a lawsuit against the employer.

Fast-forward to October 2015, the EEOC’s lawsuit was brought before a federal jury in Peoria, Illinois. After hearing all of the facts of the case, the jury found that the employer had violated Title VII and discriminated against the two former employees because it refused to accommodate the employees’ religious beliefs. The end result – the jury awarded the employees a total of $240,000 in damages.

The take-home message for employers: under certain circumstances, employers may be required to excuse employees from performing tasks that the employees find religiously objectionable. In order to make that determination, employers must engage in the interactive process with the employees and determine whether the employer can accommodate the employee’s request without causing an undue hardship to the employer. Failure to do so may expose the employer to a claim under Title VII or applicable state law.

Amendment to California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act Signed Into Law

On July 16, 2015, California Governor Jerry Brown signed AB-987, which amends California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act (“FEHA”). This amendment recognizes that an employee’s (or applicant’s) request for reasonable accommodation based on religion or disability constitutes protected activity under FEHA. The amendment also prohibits an employer from retaliating or otherwise discriminating against a person for requesting accommodation of his or her disability or religious beliefs, regardless of whether the accommodation request was granted. These changes to FEHA will take effect on January 1, 2016.

Burger King Doesn’t Get it Their Way

The EEOC has settled with a Burger King franchisee to resolve a claim that the franchisee discriminated against a former employee on the basis of religion.  The Pentecostal Christian employee advised Burger King that she would need to wear a skirt to work as part of her religion.  Her request was initially approved but when she reported for work was told that she needed to wear the pants included with the standard uniform.  She was terminated as a result of the accommodation denial.  She was awarded $25,000 based on the failure to accommodate.  Employers must be prepared to accommodate an employee’s religious beliefs unless it would pose an undue hardship.  Wearing a skirt was not an undue hardship in this case.