February 13, 2018
Decostar sells car parts, and it certainly didn't mind applying the brakes to religious freedom in 2014. Thanks to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the company is almost certainly having second thoughts about that intolerance now that it's on the losing side of an important settlement.
The controversy started in 2014, when the Georgia-based business refused to give one of its employees the Sabbath off. Dina Lucas Velasquez asked repeatedly for an accommodation between Friday and Saturday nights, when her faith bars her from working. The manufacturer agreed until a new supervisor was hired and demanded that she violate her beliefs and work. When she refused, they fired her.
It didn't take long for Decostar to regret it. Velasquez filed a discrimination complaint with the EEOC, and, in a rare but encouraging sign, the EEOC sided with her. "It is unconscionable and unlawful for employers to force members of their workforce to choose between their livelihood and their religion," said Antonette Sewell, regional attorney for the agency's Atlanta office. The Commission ordered the company to pay monetary damages to Dina, and, even more importantly, required it to adopt a new policy for religious accommodations, along with training so that no one in the company infringes on another's sincerely-held beliefs. "This settlement shows the EEOC's dedication to the protection of religious freedom in the workplace as well as the company's commitment to prevent similar circumstances from arising in the future."
The EEOC's ruling comes on the heels of another high-profile religious liberty case involving North Carolina Magistrate Gayle Myrick, whose supervisor initially agreed to a schedule compromise so that she wouldn't have to perform same-sex weddings. Later, a person higher up the chain of command let her go. The state was ordered to pay more than $300,000 in back pay. Obviously, the EEOC under Trump is gradually becoming a force for good in instances when faith-loving Americans are persecuted. And FRC's Travis Weber couldn't be happier.
"I'm glad to see the EEOC protecting religious liberty. Everyone should be free to live out their faith through their work, in the marketplace, and in the public square. That's what a proper understanding of religious freedom is all about. For that reason, I celebrate the EEOC's enforcement of religious freedom protections on behalf of Ms. Velasquez, who simply wanted to live out her faith by not working on the Sabbath. It is encouraging to finally to see government protect her faith, and not impose conditions on it by forcing her to either give up her beliefs or leave the marketplace."
Tony Perkins' Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.