09/26/10 — T.A. Loving settles workers rights lawsuit

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T.A. Loving settles workers rights lawsuit

By Staff Reports
Published in News on September 26, 2010 1:50 AM

A Goldsboro construction company will pay $47,500 to three former workers because they were fired for refusing to work on Saturday for what they said were religious reasons, according to a new release by the United States Equal Opportunity Commission.

Members of the Seventh-Day Adventist church are not permitted to work from sundown Friday to sundown Saturday, which is considered that church's sabbath.

The settlement was reached with the EEOC, which sued the company in February. EEOC officials argued that the company could have accommodated the workers by shifting work schedules around or by hiring temporary workers for that day.

The Civil Rights Act of 1964 requires employers to make reasonable accommodations for employees' religious beliefs unless it would impose an undue hardship on a company.

T.A. Loving agreed to the settlement but did not admit to any wrongdoing.

Three workers received settlements. Elvis Cifuentes Angel will receive $20,000. Hugo Angel-Lopez and Abenaias Velasquez will get $13,750 each. The fourth worker, Jaime Mejia, could not be found and is believed to have left the United States.

The incident happened in September 2007, according to the EEOC.

The lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina.

"Employers need to ensure that their supervisor and managers who are called upon to make decisions on employees' requests for religious accommodation are fully knowledgeable of the employer's obligations under Title VII," said Lynnette A. Barnes, regional attorney for the EEOC's Charlotte District Office. "Many decision makers seem to forget that unless providing a reasonable accommodation would impose an undue hardship on the company, the accommodation must be provided. No person should ever be forced to choose between their religion and their job."