This Takes the Cake: The Supreme Court Sides with Colorado Baker Who Refused to Make a Cake for a Gay Couple

Supreme CourtOne of the most anticipated rulings of the Spring Term was issued by the Supreme Court on June 4, 2018. In a 7-2 decision, the Court ruled that baker Jack Phillips was treated with hostility for his religious views by the Colorado Civil Rights Commission when they ruled that he could not refuse to make a gay couple a wedding cake. Continue reading

Vaccinations and Religion: The Limits Are Set

Flushot.jpgThe anti-vaccination movement has been gaining traction in the United States for several years, much to the chagrin of safety-minded employers. While businesses offer ever broader benefits to limit the business impact of nationwide pandemics, including on-site flu clinics, many employees are refusing to participate and lowering the efficacy of vaccinations for those who do.  In an effort to protect their decision-making, anti-vaccination employees are claiming that their decisions are motivated by “sincere and strongly held beliefs” that are tantamount to a religious conviction.  The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, the appellate court responsible for reviewing all federal trial court decisions in Delaware, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey, has rejected this argument. Continue reading

Guidance for Employers from Abercrombie

By Barry M. Willoughby

At our recent Annual Seminar, we discussed, EEOC v. Abercrombie & Fitch Stores, Inc., an action involving alleged religious discrimination in connection with a refusal to hire that was then pending before the U.S. Supreme Court.  Attendees at the seminar will recall that the case involved an applicant for employment at Abercrombie who was turned down based on the Company’s “look policy,” because she wore a head scarf.  Although the interview for this position did not involve any discussion of whether the applicant wore the scarf for religious reasons, and/or whether she would require an accommodation to allow her to wear the scarf while at work, the EEOC investigation established that the company’s representatives believed that the applicant was wearing the scarf for religious reasons and refused to hire her on that basis. Continue reading

I Believe, I Believe! A Vegan and a Flu Shot

Can an employee be required to get a flu shot? Employers want a healthy workforce and, presumably, employees do not want to be sick. So a flu shot seems like a good idea. And an offer of a free flu shot for employees seems like a great perk.

But the goodwill-nature of a suggestion always seems to change when a suggestion turns into a requirement. Maybe it’s just the rebellious teenager in all of us that reacts negatively to being told that we must do something. Maybe we all have authority issues. I don’t know what it is about being ordered to do something that seems to set off an automatic negative response. Continue reading

Religious Discrimination Claim Succeeds for Failure to Accommodate Facial Hair

religion_rastafarian_lionTitle VII prohibits employers from discrimination based on religion, among other things.  The anti-religious-discrimination requirements actually require employers to go a step further.  Not only must employers refrain from acting (i.e., from discriminating), but they must also take action in the form of providing an accommodation for sincerely held religious beliefs of an employee.  Of course, there are limits on how far an employer must go to make such accommodations. And, like all of Title VII, the law applies not only to employees but to applicants, as well.  Continue reading

Religious Discrimination Claim Filed Over Refusal to Wear Short Shorts to Work

image_115Religious discrimination can arise in a variety of circumstances. For example, just recently, we posted about a religious-discrimination claim filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”), on behalf of four Rastafarians who had been disciplined for their dreadlocks.  In another, fairly unusual, claim of religious discrimination, the issue isn’t hair-style choices, though.  This time, the problem is with short shorts. Continue reading

EEOC Sues over Dreadlocks, Claiming Religious Discrimination

image_458Work rules for dress code are not out of fashion just because the season has changed.  Instead, the topic of “What Not to Wear to Work” is as trendy as ever.  So, for those of you charged with the task of enforcing dress codes and monitoring hem lines, here’s a bit of reassurance that you are not alone.    Continue reading