South-Western Legal Studies in Business

Employer Failed to Have Policy or Process to Deal with Religious Discrimination
Description Appeals court held that an employee who was fired after he complained about being discriminated against on the basis of religion established a prima facie case because the employer failed to have an antidiscrimination policy or complaint process.
Topic Employment Discrimination
Key Words Religious Discrimination; Prima Facie Case; Retaliation
C A S E   S U M M A R Y
Facts Young requested to be absent from work for two days so he could attend a church convention. His boss passed along the request, but failed to note that it was for a religious purpose, so the request was turned down. Young then sent another request, but it was rejected too. He went to the convention anyway. When he returned, he was suspended for ten days for having left without permission. He protested that the suspension was harsher than other employees were given for similar infractions and said he would file a complaint. He was fired, and so he filed a complaint with the California agency that handles employment discrimination complaints. It held in Young's favor. That decision was reversed by the trial court. Young appealed.
Decision

Reversed and remanded. The evidence was clear that Young has a sincere religious belief and that his employer was aware of that belief. There was no evidence that the employer attempted to consider or accommodate Young's request, so Young established a prima facie case of discrimination. Instead, the employer retaliated against Young by failing to investigate the matter properly and by firing him when he asserted he would file a complaint. The employer failed to have a grievance procedure or policy that addressed religious discrimination or accommodation of employees' religious beliefs.

Citation California Fair Employment and Housing Comm. v. Gemini Aluminum Corp., 2004 WL 2180828 (Ct. App., Calif., 2004)

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