Even organizations involved in the most noble pursuits sometimes run afoul of discrimination laws.
The National Federation of the Blind (NFB), the largest organization of blind and low-vision people in the United States, will pay $25,000 and furnish significant equitable relief to settle a federal religious discrimination lawsuit, the EEOC announced.
According to the agency’s lawsuit, Joseph R. Massey II is a practicing Hebrew Pentecostal, a Christian denomination, who abstains from working from sunset Friday to sunset Saturday based on his sincerely held religious beliefs.
EEOC claimed that about two months after Massey started working as a bookkeeper at NFB’s Baltimore office, management told Massey he would have to work certain Saturdays. Massey explained that he could not work Saturdays due to his religious beliefs and requested a reasonable accommodation, such as working on Sundays or working late on week nights other than Fridays.
NFB refused to provide any reasonable accommodation and instead abruptly fired Massey because of his religion, according to the lawsuit. EEOC filed suit in U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland, Baltimore Division after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement.
Training, new policy also ordered
In addition to the $25,000 in monetary relief to Massey, the 30-month consent decree resolving the lawsuit enjoins NFB from engaging in religious discrimination, including failing to provide a reasonable accommodation. The federation will implement and disseminate to all employees a detailed policy against religious discrimination. NFB will train all managers and supervisors on Title VII’s prohibitions against employment discrimination, with an emphasis on the religious discrimination protections, and will post a notice about the settlement.
“The 21st century workforce is increasingly diverse, so employers must be prepared to address requests for a reasonable accommodation,” EEOC Philadelphia District Director Spencer H. Lewis, Jr. said in a press release. “It is in everyone’s best interest when managers talk to an employee about his or her request for religious accommodation and explore options that will keep someone employed, such as adjusting a work schedule to allow the observation of the employee’s Sabbath, instead of jumping to termination.”