UPDATE: Feb. 17, 2023: This story was updated to include a statement from the city of Lansing, Michigan.
The city of Lansing, Michigan, came to a settlement Feb. 15 with the U.S. Department of Justice over claims of religious discrimination and retaliation, the agency said.
The DOJ’s lawsuit alleged that the city terminated a now-former detention officer with the city’s police department due to her request to not work from sunset Fridays through sunset Saturdays because she is a Seventh-day Adventist who observes the Sabbath. The complaint alleges the employee informed the city of her religious observation both during the application process and on her first day of work, the DOJ said.
The department claims that the city of Lansing terminated the employee instead of providing a religious accommodation required by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and retaliated against her by filing a counterclaim against her.
The city of Lansing said it is redrafting its religious accommodation policy and was already in the process of doing so before the consent decree as part of a larger review of its HR policies.
“The city of Lansing is pleased to resolve this issue with the Department of Justice and put it behind us with no admission of fault on the part of the city and with a mutual release of all claims, including the city’s claim against the plaintiff,” the city of Lansing said in an emailed statement. “The city of Lansing fully cooperated with the DOJ throughout their investigation of this matter and we will continue to work with them to ensure we have robust policies in place to protect individuals from discrimination and to accommodate religious beliefs.”
Under the consent decree, which is subject to approval by the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Michigan, the city will submit religious accommodation and retaliation policies and proposed training on those policies to the DOJ for approval. The city also will pay the employee $50,000 in back pay and other damages.
“With this consent decree, the city of Lansing will undertake actions necessary to protect the religious rights of employees in the workplace,” Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division said in a news release.