Tuesday, August 30, 2011

The Patty Tipton Company Sued For Religious Discrimination

Staffing agencies seem to forget that equal employment laws apply to them too. I have noticed a trend in New York, especially in the healthcare profession, how hospitals and nursing homes are using temporary employment agencies as a way to discriminate against those who they view as undesirable because of race, religion, gender and sexual orientation. It is good to know that the EEOC is working hard to unmask those who try to circumvent civil rights laws by using third party employment agencies.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. – A Lexington staffing agency, The Patty Tipton Company, violated federal law by refusing to hire a job applicant because she insisted on wearing a long skirt instead of pants due to her religious beliefs, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit it filed today.

According to the EEOC’s suit, Megan Woodard, a University of Kentucky student, is a member of a fundamentalist Baptist church whose members believe that women should not dress like men. Woodard applied for a temporary job at the 2010 World Equestrian Games (WEG) held in Lexington, but was denied a position due to her request for the religious accommodation. Woodard was eventually hired by another company that had no problem with accomodating her request to wear a long skirt while working at the WEG.

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 requires employers to attempt to make reasonable accommodations to sincerely held religious beliefs of employees as long as this poses no undue hardship. The EEOC filed suit (Case No. 5:11-cv-00278-KSF in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Kentucky) after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. The agency is seeking back pay, compensatory and punitive damages from The Patty Tipton Company for Woodard as well as other relief, including a permanent injunction to prevent the company from engaging in any future discrimination.

“As the statute makes clear, employers are obligated to work toward reasonable accommodations to prevent religious discrimination,” said Laurie Young, regional attorney for the EEOC’s Indianapolis District Office. “We are committed to eliminating all forms of discrimination from the workplace.”

The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about the EEOC is available on its web site at www.eeoc.gov.

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