- Wellpath, a business that provides health services to correctional facilities, will pay $75,000 to settle claims of religious discrimination brought by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the agency announced Feb. 1.
- In its lawsuit, EEOC alleged a nurse was denied the reasonable accommodation of wearing a scrub skirt, as opposed to scrub pants, while at work. Her Apostolic Pentecostal Christian beliefs required her to dress modestly and wear skirts instead of pants, EEOC said.
- As part of the settlement, Wellpath will provide anti-discrimination training and distribute a notice that informs employees of their rights, EEOC said. Wellpath did not respond to request for comment by press time.
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits employers from discriminating against workers on the basis of their religion, in addition to a number of other protected characteristics such as race, sex and national origin. The EEOC enforces this and a number of other anti-discrimination laws.
Unlike most of Title VII's other components, its prohibition on religious discrimination carries an element of accommodation. EEOC Trial Attorney Philip Moss touched on this element in the agency's press release regarding the settlement.
"Under federal law, when a workplace rule conflicts with an employee's sincerely held religious practice, an employer must attempt to find a workable solution," Moss said. "This settlement should underscore the importance of employers taking affirmative steps to comply with their obligations under anti-discrimination laws."
Religious discrimination suits that include failure-to-accommodate claims commonly focus on shift availability, making this case somewhat novel. But EEOC has sued companies over accommodation issues centering on religious attire before. The agency alleged in 2019, for example, that Greyhound Lines violated federal law by refusing to allow a Muslim bus driver to wear religious attire in accordance with her beliefs. The company paid $45,000 to settle the allegations two years later.