Decorative Scales of Justice in the Courtroom

Written by Don Byrd

J.B.Hunt Transport, Inc. will pay $260,000 and revise its religious accommodation policies and procedures to settle a lawsuit brought by the Sikh Coalition on behalf of four job applicants who objected to the drug screening process on religious grounds. Because an article of Sikh faith is to maintain uncut hair, the plaintiffs requested but were denied an alternative to the hair sample the company typically requires for its drug test.

Their refusal, the complaint alleged, resulted in the denial of employment, in violation of federal nondiscrimination law.

The EEOC announced the settlement in a press release earlier this week:

“J.B. Hunt has been cooperative in working with EEOC to resolve this charge without resorting to litigation,” said Rosa Viramontes, district director of EEOC’s Los Angeles District. “We commend J.B. Hunt’s willingness to revise its drug testing policy and take steps to make its hiring process more inclusive for qualified candidates regardless of race, national origin or religion.”

“Our clients repeatedly asked for alternatives within the drug testing regimes that would allow them to follow their religious tenets, and those requests were denied. Thankfully J.B. Hunt has finally switched gears and moved into the right lane to comply with federal anti-discrimination law,” said the Sikh Coalition’s legal director, Harsimran Kaur.

Employers are required by law to take into account the religious accommodation needs of their employees, and may not deny employment to an applicant on the basis of their religious beliefs or need for accommodation. No American should have to choose between the demands of their job and the tenets of their faith, if that faith can be accommodated.

The Sikh Coalition press release is here.