Human Resources News & Insights

Catholic worker says religion got him fired, sues for $1M

It’s a question a lot of folks in HR deal with: When an employee wants time off for a religious reason, can a manager ever say no?

Now a court’s going to tackle the question — and the answer could cost Wal-Mart a million bucks.

For roughly a year, John Kennedy worked in the deli for a Wal-Mart-owned Sam’s Club store. During that time, he made numerous complaints about being required to work on Sundays.

Kennedy is a devout Catholic, and told managers he needed Sundays off to attend Mass. He claims the company agreed to his scheduling request when he was hired but forced him to work anyway.

After making the complaints to management, Kennedy was fired. He’s suing the company for $1 million.

The law requires companies to accommodate employees’ religious beliefs, unless doing so would cause an undue hardship.

We’ll keep you posted on how the case is decided.

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  1. OK, I’m Catholic and I know that there are options to attend mass on Saturday evenings as well as at different times on Sundays. I also know that retail hours could accomodate either of those without disrupting his ability to attend church. I would guess that this will go to the employer.

  2. I’m not Catholic, but as a Christian I recognize Sunday as the Sabbath Day. One of the 10 Commandments says that we should remember the sabbath day to keep it holy. Some people still observe the sabbath by not working, not shopping, not spending the day in recreation. I think John has a valid claim. He told the employer he needed this religious accomodation and the article says that they agreed to it.

  3. I have friends that are Catholic and they go to church on Saturday evenings.

  4. Attending mass also does not require a full day off. Why not attend mass and work the evening shift. I agree with Michelle, with retail there is a lot of different options

  5. But the Sabbath is really Saturday – so which day you you want off – the Sabbath or Sunday – the day most Christians observe because of when Jesus took communion? There are several companies that close on Sunday – Hobby Lobby, Chic-a-filet… If you work for Wal-Mart, Target… you know you are going to have to work weekends.

  6. There are options, so why didn’t the company propose any? He told them he attends church on Sunday, they didn’t have a problem with that when he was hired. Devout Catholics believe Sunday is a holy day. So why not change the schedules around, IF it would not have created an undue hardship? I think the employee will win.

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