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Religious Discrimination: Employers Cannot Fire Employee For Observing Sabbath

On Behalf of | Oct 7, 2013 | Religious Discrimination |

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Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Ohio’s R.C. § 4112.99 makes it unlawful for employers to discriminate based on religion by taking adverse actions against the employee. Our employment discrimination attorneys also regularly have to remind employers that these anti-religious discrimination laws further require employers to accommodate the religious beliefs and/or practices of its employees unless doing so would impose an undue hardship on that employer. Even if the employer asserts an undue hardship defense to a religious discrimination claim, such a defense likely raises a question of fact for the jury.

Let’s take the religious discrimination case of Anthony Okon as an example. Okon worked as a salesperson at car dealership Maita Chevrolet. Additionally, Okon is a Nigerian immigrant and a Seventh-Day Adventist. Pursuant to his religious beliefs, Okon observed the Sabbath by not engaging in secular work from sundown Friday to sundown Saturday. Nonetheless, Maita Chevy scheduled Okon for shifts on the Sabbath. In an attempt to resolve this dispute and seek accommodation, Okon submitted not only his written requests but also letters from his pastor, in which the pastor explained their religious requirements to Maita Chevy, who responded by engaging in religious harassment.  Then, when Okon continued to religiously observe the Sabbath, Maita Chevy fired him.

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Assuming that there were enough car salespeople at the dealership, there is no way the employer could show there was an undue hardship by giving Okon off Friday evenings and Saturday until sundown.

Under a court ordered consent decree resolving the religious discrimination lawsuit, Maita Chevy will pay $158,000 and revise its personnel policy, which represents about three times a typical car salesperson salary.

If you feel that you are being discriminated or harassed based on your religion or religious beliefs, the best course of action you can take is to call the right attorney at 866-797-6040 to schedule a free and confidential consultation. At Spitz, The Employee’s Law Firm, you will meet with a religious discrimination attorney, who will be able to tell you what your legal rights are and the best way to protect them.


The materials available at this employment law website are for informational purposes only and not for the purpose of providing legal advice. It is best contact an Ohio religious discrimination lawyer to obtain advice with respect to sexual harassment /hostile work environment questions or any particular employment law issue. Use and access to this employment law website or any of the links contained within the site do not create an attorney-client relationship. The legal opinions expressed at or through this site are the opinions of the individual lawyer and may not reflect the opinions of Spitz, The Employee’s Law Firm or any individual attorney

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