Comfort Inn Oceanfront South facing EEOC religious bias suit on behalf employee fired for requesting Sabbath off on Christmas Eve
The owners/operators of Comfort Inn Oceanfront South in Nags Head, North Carolina, violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 when they failed to accommodate an employee’s religious beliefs and then fired her because of her religion, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) contends in a lawsuit filed on July 30 in federal court in North Carolina.
The complaint filed by the federal agency alleges that Claudia Neal, formerly a front desk clerk at Comfort Inn Oceanfront South and a Seventh-Day Adventist who observes her Sabbath from sundown on Friday until sundown on Saturday, was scheduled by managers to work the evening shift on Friday, December 24, 2010 (EEOC v Landmark Hotel Group, EDNC, No 4:12-CV-158). Because the shift interfered with her Sabbath observance, Neal, who had previously been allowed off on her Sabbath by other hotel managers, explained that she could not work that evening because of her Sabbath. The hotel managers not only refused Neal’s request — they fired her instead, according to the EEOC.
The agency is seeking back pay, compensatory and punitive damages, and reinstatement or front pay. The complaint also seeks injunctive relief.
“Employers must remember their duty to provide an accommodation for the sincerely held religious beliefs of their employees and applicants,” said EEOC Regional Attorney Lynette A. Barnes. “An employee should not needlessly be forced to choose between her faith and her job when there are reasonable ways to accommodate both the employee’s religious observance and the employer’s scheduling needs.”