Walmart Accused of Religious Bias

October 4, 2010 ( – The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has charged that Walmart refused to allow an assistant store manager to take leave on Sundays so he could focus on his Mormon faith.

An EEOC news release said the retailer accommodated Richard Nichols’ request at its Colville, Washington, store from 1995 to 2009, but changed its scheduling system in 2009 and began refusing the leave request. The agency said Walmart disciplined and threatened to fire Nichols over the dispute.

According to the EEOC, Nichols observes the Sabbath as part of his religious practice by refraining from work of any kind (including household chores or shopping) and limits his activities to those that are church related.

An EEOC lawsuit seeks back pay and other monetary losses, compensa­tory and punitive damages for Nichols and appropriate injunctive relief to prevent any future discrimination.

“Where there is a conflict between an employee’s religious beliefs and work rules, the law mandates that employers make a sincere effort to accommodate those beliefs,” said Luis Lucero, director of the EEOC’s Seattle Field Office.