Don’t discriminate. (But, if you do, don’t make it THIS EASY for the EEOC to nail you for it.)


I have a lot of respect for human resource professionals. It’s not easy being in HR. Or so I hear.

(No one has ever confused me with someone who put the “human” in human resources. I can be more of a, shall we say, jerk.)

I know the types of complex issues that you deal with regularly. See, e.g., COVID-19. It can be tricky. It can be frustrating — makes you want to second-guess your HR compliance decisions. But, trust me, you’re doing a fine job!

If your self-esteem needs a boost, head over to the EEOC Newsroom and read what some of the other knuckleheads are doing to comply (?) with EEO laws (allegedly). Often, you’ll find an employer allegedly admitting to rescinding a job offer to a woman after learning that she is pregnant. Or a company that supposedly still uses a 100%-healed policy before allowing individuals with disabilities to return to work.

But this religious discrimination settlement I read about yesterday may take the cake for December. Here’s more from the EEOC press release:

[An employer] will pay $40,000 and provide other relief to settle an employment discrimination lawsuit brought by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the federal agency announced today.

The EEOC charged that [the employer], a worldwide insurance brokerage and risk management firm, violated federal anti-discrimination laws when it fired a client underwriting associate…

According to the EEOC’s lawsuit, filed last year, [the employer] knew of [the employee’s] Christian religious practices, including fasting in conjunction with Lent. As set out in the EEOC’s complaint, a “Termination Memo” [the employer] issued cited “fasting” and “meditating” among reasons for firing [the employee].

This press release reminds me of those lawsuits where some new, untrained supervisor issues a long-time employee’s first subpar annual performance review. Among other things, the direct report receives 1’s in Teamwork and Responsiveness. And the comments read, “His overall performance fell below expectations, which likely correlates with missing work due to increased use of FMLA leave. Similar action in the future may lead to discipline up to and including termination of employment.

It’s what we call direct evidence of discrimination.

Based on these EEOC allegations, settling for $40K is a lot less than it would have cost to pay attorneys to defend the claim, let alone pay a potential judgment.

As the EEOC notes in the release, “employers need to be respectful of employees’ religious beliefs and practices and provide any needed reasonable accommodations to those employees unless the employer can prove an undue hardship.”


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