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As an employment discrimination attorney, it is easy to simply say that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Ohio Unlawful Discriminatory Practice Statute, R.C. § 4112.99, prohibit religious discrimination in employment. Obviously, you can’t fire someone for being Muslim or Jewish. But, can an employer limit the pool of applicants by only advertising in the church attended by its management? Let’s take the case of Edward Wolfe v. Voss Lighting as an example.

In this case, Voss Lighting has over 200 employees and specializes in selling lighting product replacements throughout the United States. Voss Lighting advertised a vacancy for an “operations supervisor” position through a website offered by the church attended by the incumbent supervisor. Advertising in a church sponsored website or bulletin is not likely enough to make a case of discrimination – especially if there is advertising elsewhere.

Wolfe, although not a church member, applied for the position because he had previous operations management experience and needed a job. A Voss supervisor conducted the first interview with Wolfe at which time he gathered personal information about Wolfe’s religious beliefs and practices. Danger, Danger.

Then, this supervisor omitted Wolfe’s application and résumé and sent only Wolfe’s personal religious information to the branch manager with a recommendation that he be hired. Okay, the first manager crossed the line, but came part of the way back over.

But, when the branch manager formally interviewed Wolfe, there was no question that Voss crossed the line and kept going. According to the complaint, the majority of the job interview concerned Wolfe’s religious activities and beliefs. Incredibly egregious, Voss asked Wolfe to identify each church he has attended over the last few years; where and when he became “saved;” and whether he “would have a problem” coming into work early to attend Bible study before clocking in (I’m not even getting into the Fair Labor Standards Act issues on that one). Then, per Wolfe, the branch manager actually conveyed his dissatisfaction with Wolfe’s honest responses to the religious questioning. Even if Wolfe got the job, this line of questioning set up a variety of claims for any perceived adverse treatment that followed.

But, Wolfe did not get the job despite the fact that Voss had no viable candidates for the position. Voss then actively sought other applicants and eventually hired an individual whose religious beliefs matched those held by Voss’s management. Very, very bad.

Voss then paid $82,500 to settle the claim.

If you even think that your employment rights have been violated or that you might need an employment lawyer, then call the right attorney to schedule a free and confidential consultation at 866-797-6040. The Spitz Law Firm is dedicated to protecting employees’ rights and solving employment disputes.

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