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PRESS RELEASE
7-19-11

Menorah House Sued By EEOC For Religious Discrimination

Boca Raton Nursing Facility Fired Employee for Insisting on Keeping Sabbath, Federal Agency Charges

BOCA RATON, Fla. – A Baca Raton  nursing and rehabilitation facility violated federal law by firing an employee  over Sabbath-keeping issues, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission  (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit it filed today.

According to the EEOC’s suit (EEOC v. Menorah House, case no. 9:11-cv-80825)  filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida, that Boca  Group LLC, doing business as Menorah House, denied a religious accommodation to  Philomene Augustin and fired her because of her religious beliefs. Augustin, who worked at Menorah House as a  certified nursing assistant, is a Seventh-Day Adventist, and her Sabbath is  from sundown on Friday to sundown on Saturday evening. Menorah House had accommodated Augustin’s  request not to work on her Sabbath for over ten years until management instituted  a new policy requiring all employees to work on Saturdays, regardless of their  religious beliefs.

Such alleged conduct violates Title  VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits religious discrimination  and requires employers to make reasonable accommodations to employees’  sincerely held religious beliefs so long as this does not pose an undue  hardship.

“The law seeks to strike a balance  between reasonably accommodating religious beliefs and respecting legitimate  business concerns,” said Robert E. Weisberg, the EEOC’s Regional Attorney for Miami. “Unfortunately, in this case the employer  refused its legal obligation to pursue a solution that’s fair for all  concerned.”

The EEOC filed suit after first  attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation  process. The agency is asking the court  to grant a permanent injunction enjoining Menorah House from further engaging  in any employment practice that discriminates against employees because of  their religious belief and requiring the company to reasonably accommodate the  religious beliefs of employees. The suit  also asks the court to order Menorah House to reinstate Augustin, grant back  pay, provide compensatory and punitive damages and award any other relief the  court deems necessary and proper.

“It is incumbent upon employers to  reasonably accommodate an employee’s religious practices, when to do so would  not result in an undue hardship,” said District Director Malcolm Medley. “The EEOC will continue to act when employers  fail to meet that obligation.”

The EEOC recently held a Commission  meeting on the use of leave to provide  reasonable accommodations to employees. http://www.eeoc.gov/eeoc/newsroom/release/6-8-11b.cfm

The EEOC enforces federal laws  prohibiting employment discrimination.  Further information about the EEOC is available on the agency’s web site  at www.eeoc.gov.