Pennsylvania Record

Thursday, November 14, 2019

EEOC backs religious discrimination claim of Messianic Jew who resigned from Center One

Federal Court

By Marian Johns | Oct 16, 2019

Discrimination 06

PITTSBURGH – A federal agency alleges a former employee at Center One's Beaver Falls location was denied reasonable accommodation and forced to resign because of his Messianic Judaism religion. 

According to the Sept. 27 filing in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) filed the complaint against Center One LLC claiming violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 in regards to former employee Demetrius Ford. 

"Defendant failed and refused to accommodate Ford’s requests for a reasonable accommodation of his sincerely held religious belief and practice of abstaining from work on certain religious holidays/holy days of Messianic Judaism," the EEOC alleges in its suit. 

"Defendant failed and refused to exempt Ford from work on days that he was required by his religion to be absent for religious observance or to exempt him from all disciplinary action/attendance points for such absences. Instead, defendant directed Ford to not take any further days off."

According to the EEOC complaint, Ford had told Center One throughout his employment and prior to his hiring that he could not work on certain religious holidays and holy days observed by the Messianic Jewish Faith. 

"The reason Ford felt compelled to end his employment and resign was defendant’s refusal to provide him with a reasonable accommodation for his religion in the form of excused days off for religious holidays," the EEOC stated in the complaint. "By refusing to provide Ford with a reasonable accommodation for his sincerely held religious belief and practice, defendant created working conditions sufficiently intolerable that a reasonable person would feel compelled to end their employment."

The EEOC seeks back and front pay with prejudgment interest, reinstatement with retroactive seniority and benefits as well as punitive damages.

EEOC attorneys for the case are James Lee, Gwendolyn Young Reams, Debra Lawrence, Ronald Phillips and Gregory Murray. 

U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania case number 2:19-cv-01242

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