Lowe's Sued for Religious Discrimination

April 1, 2010 (PLANSPONSOR.com) - The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has filed a lawsuit accusing Lowe’s Home Centers of religious discrimination for requiring an employee to work on his Sabbath, and harassing and retaliating against him, causing him to lose hours.

The EEOC said that while Lowe’s  has an asserted policy for requesting religious accommodations, its workplace  policy and practice was to refuse to accommodate sincerely held religious  beliefs of its employees, in violation of federal law. According to an EEOC announcement, the lawsuit claims Lowe’s Home Center refused to accommodate a current employee of its Morristown, Tennessee, store after he advised Lowe’s of his sincere religious belief as a Baptist  against working on the Sabbath, Sunday.       

The employee submitted two written requests for a religious accommodation not to be scheduled for work on Sunday, and Lowe’s ignored the request for two months, the EEOC said. The store then denied the request saying it might create a hardship on other employees who might like to have Sundays off.       

After the employee and others were reduced from full-time to part-time status, Lowe’s refused to allow the employee to apply for open full-time positions because of his religious belief against working on the Sabbath.      

The lawsuit asks the court to issue an injunction prohib­iting religious discrimination in the future and enjoin Lowe’s from continuing its policy and practice of refusing to provide a reasonable accommodation to its employees based on sincerely held religious beliefs.      

The EEOC also asked the court to order Lowe’s to reinstate the employee to full-time status, providing the requested accommodation. Further, the EEOC asked the court to order the company to provide back pay and compensatory damages for his non-pecuniary losses, including emotional and psychological harm, as well as punitive damages.