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Law Educator, Esq.
Law Educator, Esq., Attorney
Category: Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 112768
Experience:  20+ Years of Employment Law Experience
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Workplace issues with failure to acommadate time off ...

Customer Question

Workplace issues with failure to acommadate time off for Sabbath... HR meeting, formal letter of request, and now the 4th time since March that they are not honoring it. Considering EEOC but not sure about legalities because of night audit and only 3 of us trained... could they say it is an undue hardship? Major hotel chain, 150 full-time employees...
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Employment Law
Expert:  Law Educator, Esq. replied 1 year ago.
Thank you for your question. I look forward to working with you to provide you the information you are seeking for educational purposes only.
While under CO law the employer must reasonably accommodate the sincerely ***** ***** beliefs of an employee unless doing so would cause the employer an undue hardship. That means that the employer may refuse to allow particular days off or incur additional costs to bring in or train other employees to take your place. IF there is another employee that can work that day, then the employer should file a reasonable accommodation.
At this point, based on your facts above, it appears you do have a claim against the employer for not providing you the religious accommodation as required under Colorado law and you can file your complaint to the Colorado Division of Civil Rights: http://cdn.colorado.gov/cs/Satellite/DORA-DCR/CBON/DORA/1251629085306
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Thanks, ***** ***** part of the original message didn't get through...1. My yearly review, where I did not receive what I could have gotten due to religion. It said that they did not want me to share my religious views with others, and I thus got a lesser review and a lesser raise. In no case was anything ever shared unless that person either asked or was receptive to it, and it has never affected business or my work.2. HR formal request for a Sabbath.3. HR meeting, where I was strong armed by them, told that I might have to choose between God and work, that it was an undue hardship, etc., but then they acknowledged that they could do it, began doing it, and since then have not done it on several occasions. We have 2 auditors and a backup.4. In all of this, I have been called several different names, including Preacher boy, choir boy, a cross being put next to my name, etc. My health has suffered, including depression, anxiety attacks, migraines and sleep issues. I have seen my doctor, am on medications from this, have seen my pastors and prayed with them, feeling a lot of turmoil. Outside of work, I have a ministry for suicide prevention, and had shared that I need the Sabbath, that this is literally life and death for me.I have been with the company for almost a decade and am a good employee for them. But it's as if they are taking it as a joke. My immediate manager who does the schedule was going to make me work 12 days straight at one point, laughing and saying that I would just have to do it. I had to use a vacation day to only work 7 days straight instead of 12...And that is just the last 5 months. The previous boss said she wouldn't honor anything, first come, first serve, and I have missed conferences and retreats and too many Sabbaths to count. At one point she even did it on purpose after I came back from FMLA, saying that my colleague had filled in and so it was time for her to get Sundays off, but then it was many months where I didn't even get a Saturday or a Sunday off at all...So, do I have a state civil suit, an EEOC federal one, and would it be failure to accommodate, hostile work environment, religious discrimination, mental abuse, retaliation, or any combination of these?Do I need to do state and federal? Do I file in court? Do I need an attorney? Funds are tight.Thank you for helping...
Expert:  Law Educator, Esq. replied 1 year ago.
Thank you for your reply.
You need to exhaust your administrative remedies first, so you need to file with the Colorado Division of Civil rights first. This is a state issue under Colorado law which provides for religious accommodation. Once the Colorado Division of Civil Rights investigates, most times they can resolve the matter and if they cannot then they will give you a right to sue letter, at which time you will need a local attorney to file suit.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Is it advisable to call out if scheduled for an upcoming Sunday? I wasn't sure if this would make things worse.
Expert:  Law Educator, Esq. replied 1 year ago.
Thank you for your reply.
No, it is advisable to show up as scheduled and on Monday put in a written request explaining that you have tried to comply with the employer's scheduling but you are asking for religious accommodation into the future pursuant to Colorado law and tell them that you are entitled to such accommodation. Then if they continue to treat you this way, you file your complaint, but you keep working as scheduled because you do not want to give them any excuse to terminate you for refusing to work.

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