WINTERVILLE, N.C. (Legal Newsline) — The U.S. Equal
Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has announced it has charged Greenville
Ready Mix Concrete Inc. with allegations of violating federal law by refusing
to provide a religious accommodation for and then firing an employee who is a Seventh-day
Michael Cole was a truck driver at Greenville Ready Mix’s
Winterville facility. In February 2014, Cole was baptized as a Seventh-day
Adventist, a religion whose participants cannot work for hire from sunset Friday to sunset Saturday. Cole’s regular schedule did not include Saturday
work but he still asked the company to excuse him from working on Saturdays
due to his religious beliefs. The company scheduled him to work a Saturday in
March 2014 and then allegedly fired him when he refused to work that day.
Alleged conduct of this nature violates Title VII of the
Civil Rights Act of 1964. Title VII states that employers must attempt to make
reasonable accommodations to sincerely held religious beliefs.
"Employers need to ensure that their supervisors and
managers who are called upon to make decisions on employees' requests for
religious accommodations are fully knowledgeable of the employer's obligations
under federal law," said Lynette A. Barnes, regional attorney for 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 his religion and his job."