Business and Management
Submitted By ej39332
Subject: Former Employee Constructive Discharge Litigation
The company attorney notified me that the former employee filed a claim against the company, citing the violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 for Constructive Discharge. The company’s change of the working plan to a rotating shift system led to the violation of the employee’s rights or religious holiday leading to the litigation. It is in this regard that I write this memo to notify you about the finding of the case.
Summary of the Findings
Part A: How Constructive Discharge Legal concept is relevant to the scenario
The company implemented a new workplace shift policy in the production department to meet the company’s growth needs. The workplace policy was implemented at the beginning of the New Year. The policy required that employees in the production department work 12 hour shifts with 4 days of work and then 4 days off in a rotating shift. This implied that somehow some of the working days would fall into the employees’ religious holiday. As a result, the former employee resigned from work after the implementation.
The former employee is claiming a constructive discharge, which is a discriminatory workplace practice wherein an employee is compelled to quit the job due to the intolerable work environment (Thomson, 2007). However, to claim, constructive discharge, the courts must require evidence of deliberate discrimination on the basis of religion. In cases of religion discrimination, the employee needs to prove three important aspects which include: a) that he had a genuine belief that conflicted with the conditions of the work; b) that he had informed the employer about the belief; c) that the employer deliberately subjected the employee to discrimination. The plaintiff must also prove that the recent change of the work conditions was extraordinary and intolerable such that a reasonable employee put under the same circumstances would quit the job (The reasonable person test). Furthermore, the employee must prove that there is no justifiable reason for the change in the work conditions. Finally, the employee must show that the intolerable work conditions were made intentionally with the intent of having him resign (Thomson, 2007). From my research, neither of which is the case in the current lawsuit. Therefore, I recommend that we defend our position in the courts.
Part B. Protected category, under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 that is relevant to the scenario The Federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), which is among the provisions under the Title VII of the civil rights Act of 1964 pertains to religious accommodation (Gomez-Mejia, Balkin, & Cardy, 2009). The provision states that “employer is required to reasonably accommodate the religious beliefs of an employee or prospective employee, unless doing so would impose undue hardship”. Be as it may, the former employee claims that the recent shift change includes working on his religious holiday, unlike before when the work shift for employees was distributed from Monday to Friday. In addition, section 703 (1) of the aforementioned act elaborates the unlawful employer practices in relations to terms, compensation, conditions, and privileges due to the employee’s religion, race, gender, or to limit employment opportunities because of the employee’s religion (Gomez-Mejia, Balkin, & Cardy, 2009).
Part C (1): How the three chosen Legal references support your recommendation
The company must maintain that in the case provided, there was no violation of the Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, and a constructive discharge did not occur. The company will be able to win this case for the plaintiff would face difficulties proving a prima facie against the company. According to the records on file, the former employee had not informed the employer of his sincere religious belief that conflicted with the change in the shift system. Moreover, the change in shift policy was for every employee in the production department and not for the employee alone. Therefore, it would be very difficult for the court to prove the evidence for discrimination due to religion. In reference to a case involving Lawson V. State of Washington, the court ruled in favor of the state over a constructive discharge claim of religious discrimination. Despite the plaintiff showing that his genuine religious belief conflicted with his duties even after informing the employer, the court did not accept his submission that he was discharged for non compliance with the duties that conflicted with his religious beliefs because he just quit the job. The former employee will fail in his case, basing on the same argument.
The company had no intention to deliberately discharge the former employee, but he quit the job voluntarily. The court will dismiss his claims of religious discrimination just like the court did in David A. Goldmeier and Terry C Goldmeier V. Allstate Insurance Company (2003). The insurance company planned to have its offices opened on Friday and Saturdays. However, this change conflicted with Goldmeier’s religious beliefs, who were the licensed insurance agents of the company, because they would not work on the Sabbath being Sabbath keepers. The court of appeal in the 6th circuit found that the employees resigned and had not been disciplined or discharged over the conflict. This scenario is similar to our case, but our case is stronger since, unlike in the aforementioned case where the employees had informed the employer of their religious belief, the former employer did not inform the employer in advance about the religious beliefs. Furthermore, the employee quit the job because the rotating shift would one time fall on a religious holiday, and had not been disciplined or intentionally discharged over the conflict.
Furthermore, the company can prove to the court that any attempt to accommodate the religious practice would result in undue hardship for the company. The reason for introducing the rotating shift was to meet the demand for the company’s growth. Thus, failing to do so would result in financial losses due to lost opportunities. Our case is similar to the one that involved EEOC v. JBS Company whereby the EOC filed lawsuit against the JBS Company for failing to accommodate a Muslim employee, hence citing religious discrimination. The judge Laurie Smith of the US District Court dismissed the EEOC claims stating that the JBS Company had proved that accommodating any religious belief would cause undue hardship for the company (Association of Corporate Council, 2013). In our case, the claim of undue hardship is genuine because without the shift system, the company will lose business opportunities.
Part C (2): Future Recommendations 1. The company must ensure that the files containing the employee interviews and applications are kept intact for future reference. 2. The company should consider employing employees who are willing to work on weekends and on a 12 hour rotating shift. 3. The company must consider interviewing new employees, whether they would be willing to work on their religious holidays without problems and document the results. This will curb the issue of working on religious holidays and conflicting religious beliefs. 4. The management must have a regular internal training on the laws and regulations governing the employee rights. To ensure employees understand when their rights have been violated. 5. The organizations should consider scheduling meetings when major changes are made at departmental levels to seek opinions of the employees. This would ensure that the management takes into consideration any strong objections that may arise due to the change and make necessary adjustments before implementing the change. In addition, the management should consider empowering the employees to become part of the management decisions to confer little resistance to the proposed change.
Association of Corporate Council. (2013).Undue hardship allows employer to avoid religious accommodation. Retrieved from http://www.lexology.com/library/detail.aspx?g=8d6733a5-b729-4bb6-afce-0f1b919f8091
David A. Goldmeier and Terry C. Goldmeier v. Allstate Insurance Company, 337 F.3d 629 (6th Circuit, 2003).
Gomez-Mejia, L., Balkin, D., & Cardy, R (2009). Chapter 3: Understanding Equal Opportunity and the Legal Environment. Managing Human Resources, 6th ed.(pp.87-112). New Jersey: Pearson Educational.
Gregory Lawson v. State of Washington, DJDAR 7791 (9th Circuit, 2002)
Thomson, N.F. (2007). Understanding constructive discharge. Proceedings of the international academy for case studies, 14(1), 75-78.…...