- Written by Carl Larson
- Written by Kevin Cleveland
2015 was another busy year for the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”). Cases in the past year appear to have shown an overall increased emphasis on religious accommodation in particular. Below are a few examples of cases from the last year and some important lessons to learn if you do not want to end up in the EEOC’s cross-hairs.
EEOC v. Abercrombie & Fitch – In perhaps the most publicized EEOC case on the subject of religious accommodation, after four years of appeals, the U.S. Supreme Court held that Abercrombie’s refusal to hire a teenager who wore a headscarf (hijab) because it did not conform to the company’s “look” policy was a failure to hire/refusal to accommodate religious beliefs and constituted discrimination. Abercrombie dropped their appeal and paid $25,670 in damages and $18,983 in court costs to the woman who was denied employment.
EEOC v. Star Transport, Inc. – Two Muslim truck drivers were awarded $240,000 by a federal jury in Chicago after they were fired by their trucking company for refusing to transport alcohol because it violated the tenets of Islam. Though the total damages for each were only approximately $1,500 in back pay and $20,000 in compensatory damages per driver, the jury awarded $100,000 in punitive damages for each driver.