AT&T Pays $1.3M for Religious Discrimination

August 3, 2009 ( - A Satisfaction of Judgment was entered in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Arkansas in a religious discrimination lawsuit against AT&T, Inc. on behalf of two male customer service technicians who were suspended and fired for attending a Jehovah's Witnesses Convention.

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) announced that AT&T paid a total of $1,307,597 pursuant to the judgments entered in the case.

In October 2007, a jury awarded the two former employees, Jose Gonzalez and Glenn Owen (brothers-in-law), $296,000 in back pay and $460,000 in compensatory damages under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act (see AT&T to Pay $756,000 to Settle Religious Discrimination Charges ). AT&T appealed the jury verdict to the 8 th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which sided with the EEOC and upheld the jury verdict. The amount awarded by the jury at trial grew to $1,307,597 with the inclusion of interest and front pay.

According to the EEOC announcement, both men had submitted written requests to their manager in January 2005 for one day of leave to attend a religious observance that was scheduled for Friday July 15 to Sunday July 17, 2005. The men testified that they had sincerely held religious beliefs that required them to attend the Jehovah’s Witness convention each year, and that they had attended the convention every year throughout their employment with AT&T.

EEOC Supervisory Trial Attorney William A. Cash, Jr., who tried the case with agency attorney Darin Tuggle, said, in the announcement: “When employers or management officials attempt to make an example out of employees by discriminating against them, as was done in this case, there is a high price to pay.”