EEOC: Texas medical practice allegedly forces employees to participate in religious activities

By Mark Iandolo | Sep 22, 2017

DALLAS (Legal Newsline) - The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) announced a lawsuit Sept. 20 against Shepherd Healthcare, a medical practice in Lewisville, Texas, for allegations of firing an employee for repeatedly requesting to be excused from a daily morning Bible study.

According to the EEOC, Almeda Gibson worked at Shepherd Healthcare’s office call center for about a year. She made multiple requests to sit out of the religious portion of mandatory staff meetings. These meetings always involved reading a biblical passage and then discussing how that passage can be implemented into employee personal lives.

Gibson’s requests were denied and she eventually was fired in July 2016, only one day after a request.

The EEOC also says the health care company retaliated against three other employees who expressed objections or opposition to the office’s mandatory meeting requirements.

"Of course, employers and employees are not required to leave their own religious beliefs at home when they walk through the workplace door. However, the law requires that employers reasonably accommodate requests to be excused from company-sponsored religious activities rather than firing employees who seek such accommodation," EEOC senior trial attorney Meaghan L. Shepard said.

The EEOC seeks back pay and compensatory and punitive damages for the victims, as well as injunctive relief against Shepherd Healthcare to prevent future discrimination.

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