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Auto Parts Store Agrees to Cash Settlement and Policy Changes After Allegations of Religious Discrimination

According to a recent announcement from the Attorney General’s Office, an auto parts store employee received a $10,000 payment and the Attorney General received a promise of internal changes at the business in the wake of an employee’s complaint that the employer cut his hours after he asked not to be scheduled to work during Jewish holidays or on the Sabbath. The case highlights the strong protections New Jersey law creates for employees wishing to observe sincerely held religious practices, as well as the consequences for employers who fail to make a good-faith attempt to interact with a religious employee about his need and reasonably accommodate those religious needs. If you’ve suffered from discrimination or harassment at work because of your faithful observance of your religion, you should reach out right away to an experienced New Jersey religious discrimination attorney.

The employee in the auto parts store case, Ron, worked at the chain’s Hazlet location. Ron generally had been working three or four shifts a week, according to the Attorney General’s Office. Then, one day, Ron asked not to be scheduled for shifts that included Saturday hours or Friday hours after sunset. The employee made this request because he was Jewish and faithfully observed the Sabbath. He also asked to be off on certain Jewish holidays. After Ron made the request, he allegedly received a very different schedule, with the store scheduling him to work only one shift per week.

Believing that the employer cut his hours because he made the religious accommodation request, Ron filed a complaint with the state’s Division of Civil Rights. That agency investigated and concluded that the employer did not meet its legal obligation to accommodate Ron’s religious practice. Under changes to the Law Against Discrimination that took effect back in 2008, an employer has a statutory obligation to accommodate its employees’ “sincerely held religious observance or practice.”

An employer is only allowed to bypass this accommodation requirement if doing so would create an undue hardship for the employer’s business. New Jersey law defines an undue hardship as an “accommodation requiring unreasonable expense or difficulty, unreasonable interference with the safe or efficient operation of the workplace, a violation of a bona fide seniority system, or a violation of any provision of a collective bargaining agreement.” Accommodating Ron’s religious needs would not create any of these hardships, according to the Division of Civil Rights.

The resolution of Ron’s complaint resulted in a two-fold benefit. The employer agreed to pay Ron $10,000. Additionally, the employer agreed to make certain internal reforms in its business practices and training, including making sure that managers understand how to handle religious accommodation requests and that supervisors properly engage employees who make religious accommodation requests in an interactive process to achieve a workable accommodation.

New Jersey law has very clearly stated protections in place to protect religious workers from employment discrimination. If you think you’ve been harmed by your employer because of your religion or religious practices, consult the knowledgeable New Jersey religious discrimination attorneys at Phillips & Associates, who have been helping mistreated employees in New Jersey for many years. Contact us online or at (609) 436-9087 today to set up a free and confidential consultation to find out how we can help you.

More blog posts:

Federal Appeals Court Explains What Can Qualify as a Religion for the Purposes of an Anti-Discrimination Claim, New Jersey Employment Lawyer Blog, Jan. 5, 2018

Teacher of Palestinian Origin Allowed to Pursue Title VII Discrimination Case Against New Jersey School, New Jersey Employment Lawyer Blog, Sept. 27, 2017

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