Religious Discrimination Workplace Lawsuit by Church Deacon Against New Jersey Oil Refinery Settles

A Linden, New Jersey oil refinery owned by ConocoPhillips has settled a religious discrimination claim, reported May 29. The suit was brought by Clarence Taylor, a pipe-fitter at the Bayway Refinery who was forced to work Sundays for two months despite his requests for accommodation. The settlement in the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission lawsuit includes $7,500 and five extra vacation days for Taylor, $12,500 for a food bank Taylor selected and revised anti-discrimination policies and training for the refinery.

Taylor brought the suit after a 2006 schedule change forced him to work on Sundays for two months. He didn’t want to miss church, where he was a deacon and lay leader, so he asked to change his schedule. The company refused and told him he could use his vacation time. He contacted the EEOC, which filed a religious discrimination lawsuit on his behalf. A spokesman for ConocoPhillips said the company disagrees with the EEOC charges, admits no wrongdoing and offered Taylor a reasonable accommodation, but settled the case for business reasons.

Religious discrimination in the workplace is illegal under the Civil Rights Act, the same law that makes it illegal to discriminate according to race, sex and national origin. Among other things, Title VII of the act says employers must reasonably accommodate an employee’s sincerely held religious practice, as long as it does not pose an undue hardship to the employer. That includes schedule changes to accommodate attendance at religious services, as long as it doesn’t incur substantial extra costs or push particularly burdensome work onto co-workers.

Some people are surprised to find that Christians are covered by civil rights laws. In fact, the groups entitled to protection from religious discrimination are defined broadly in the law, including mainstream religions, uncommon and informal religions and even atheism, as long as the beliefs are sincerely held. Joseph & Kirschenbaum LLP’s religious discrimination lawyers represent people of all backgrounds and faiths in employment discrimination lawsuits. In addition to cases where a reasonable accommodation was denied, we represent people who were illegally forced to participate in religious practices as a condition of employment, subjected to wrongful termination, treated less favorably because of their faiths, retaliated against or denied the right to non-disruptive religious expression.

If you believe you’re a victim of religious discrimination in the workplace and you’re ready to fight back, call Joseph & Kirschenbaum LLP. Based in New York City, our religious discrimination attorneys represent workers throughout the United States. For a free consultation, you can contact us through the Internet or call (212) 688-5640.

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