Religious discrimination at work charge struck down.

by on December 31, 2008 · 0 Comment POSTED IN: HR Info Center

Insubordinate employee got religion – and filed a religious discrimination lawsuit

While most readers won’t find themselves in the same position as the Great Lakes Companies (which operates a number of Holiday Inn hotels), this recent case is relevant because it illustrates how courts interpret claims of religious discrimination at work

An executive housekeeper was instructed to attend a meeting with the Gideons – the religious order that places Bibles in hotel rooms.

Further, he was told that he’d personally be responsible for placing Bibles in the rooms.

He attended the meeting, but when it escalated into what he thought was an all-out prayer session, he walked out. His manager confronted him and told him never to embarrass the hotel by walking out of a meeting again. The housekeeper argued that he was offended by the prayer and the religious fervor. He was fired for insubordination.

He sued the hotel for religious discrimination at work – and he lost. Here’s why:

The housekeeper had never identified any religion to which he belonged. So the hotel couldn’t have singled him out on the basis of his religion. That’s what religious discrimination lawsuits are about – disparate treatment based on religion or denying an employee a religious accommodation. In this case, the hotel had done neither.

Cite: Reed v. the Great Lakes Companies, U.S. Court of Appeals, 7th Circuit, No. 02-3371, 5/30/03.

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