The Civil Rights Act forbids discrimination due to a person’s sincerely held religious beliefs, and employers are responsible for fairly hiring, firing, promotions, layoffs and making accommodations for their employees to practice their religion. Employers who only hire or promote those that share the same faith as them, or refuse to reasonable accommodate a faith-based activity are acting unlawfully.
Truck drivers allegedly denied accommodation and employment
Four Sikh truck drivers sued trucking giant J.B. Hunt for religious discrimination for failing to make reasonable accommodations for the trucker’s religious requirement to not cut their hair. J.B. Hunt asks employees to provide a hair sample for drug-testing before they could be hired. The Sikh drivers refused due to their religious beliefs, and suggested they could complete another kind of drug testing.
Because J.B. Hunt refused to accommodate, the truckers were denied employment – the EEOC claimed that the company’s refusal to accommodate the truckers’ religious beliefs and their subsequent refusal to hire violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act.
On November 15, the company settled with the truckers for $260 thousand and agreed to enter a conciliation agreement with EEOC and the truckers for two years to avoid litigation. In addition, J.B. Hunt has made changes to its own written hiring policies, including an alternative form of drug-testing for those who can’t cut their hair for religious purposes. J.B. Hunt has also given the four drivers a conditional offer of employment.
Religious freedom and discrimination in the workplace
While it appeared to be discriminatory the way that J.B. Hunt handled the Sikh truck drivers’ requests for accommodation, it’s a good sign that the company also decided to settle, edit their policies and offer the drivers employment. It’s also important that the Sikh workers took responsibility to seek legal help with the matter – it’s important to pursue justice when one feels they were discriminated against.
If you believe you’ve been discriminated against by an employer for your religious beliefs, contact an experienced attorney right away. They will help you explore your options and can help you seek potential compensation from your employer.