- Frito-Lay has agreed to pay about $50,000 to settle a lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) on behalf of a man who claimed his employment was terminated because of unlawful religious discrimination (U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. Frito-Lay Inc., No. 9:20-cv-81689 (S.D. Fla., Feb. 4, 2021)).
- The agency claimed Frito-Lay violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 when it fired a sales representative who did not report to Saturday trainings because of his Seventh-day Adventist religious beliefs.
- As part of the consent decree resolving the allegations, the company will provide HR, managers and employees training that covers the reasonable accommodation process.
Title VII forbids religious discrimination in all aspects of employment, including hiring, pay, job assignments and more. The law forbids discrimination based on religion, race, sex and a number of other characteristics. It requires that employers provide reasonable accommodations for workers' religious beliefs and practices.
Common religious accommodations include flexible scheduling, voluntary shift substitutions and job reassignments. However, employees are not entitled to the accommodation they prefer. For example, a truck driver who asked for Sundays off was not entitled to his accommodation of choice, the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled. The employer's offer of more flexible routes that paid less was a reasonable accommodation to the worker's request for Sundays off, the court said.
In a similar case, the 10th Circuit ruled that a worker was given a reasonable accommodation, although not the one he wanted, when he was allowed to skip weekend work after he asked that his mandatory overtime be switched from Saturday to Sunday to accommodate his religious beliefs. The employee sued his employer because he was unhappy about the loss of income that resulted from the lack of available overtime on Sundays.
While employers don't have to grant an employee's preferred accommodation, they are expected to engage in an interactive, good-faith process to determine worker accommodations. This makes compliance training for managers a good idea, experts say. HR also may want to make sure that managers are trained to handle requests and to listen for clues that suggest a need for accommodation even if there is no formal request.