A healthcare provider will pay $75,000 to settle a religious discrimination lawsuit involving a Pentecostal nurse whose request to wear a scrub skirt instead of pants was denied.
According to the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the practicing Apostolic Pentecostal Christian was hired by Wellpath LLC to provide services at the Central Texas Detention Center in San Antonio.
After accepting the job in 2019, Malinda Babineaux told a Wellpath human resources employee that she preferred to wear a skirt because of her religious beliefs. Wellpath refused his request and rescinded his job offer.
The EEOC initially sought to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process, but these efforts were unsuccessful.
Then the federal agency filed the lawsuit in September 2020, citing Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits discrimination against religious beliefs. The lawsuit also points out that Babineaux had worn a scrub skirt in previous nursing jobs, including at a juvenile correctional facility.
As part of the settlement, Wellpath is required to pay the nurse back wages, as well as compensatory damages of $75,000. The company will also ensure that employees receive anti-discrimination training which includes dress and grooming.
“Under federal law, when a rule in the workplace conflicts with an employee’s sincere religious practice, an employer must attempt to find a workable solution,” said Philip Moss, general counsel for the office. exterior of the EEOC in San Antonio. “These regulations should underscore the importance of employers taking positive steps to comply with their obligations under anti-discrimination laws.”
Title VII prohibits discrimination in employment based on race, color, religion, sex, and national origin. Employers are required to reasonably accommodate an applicant’s or employee’s religious beliefs, unless it would be unreasonably burdensome.
Regional Attorney Robert Canino added, “The EEOC is pleased that in addition to a monetary settlement, Wellpath has agreed to train its corporate human resources employees and select Texas officials on anti-discrimination laws. and to provide accommodations, including issues related to dress and grooming based on religion.
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