American flag waving in blue skyWritten by Don Byrd

The EEOC filed three new religious discrimination cases last week, continuing its growing effort to combat religious discrimination in the workplace. All three emphasize an important reality in federal law: employers may not refuse to hire someone due to their religious beliefs, and must make reasonable accommodations of employees’ faith.

In Raleigh, North Carolina, Mims Distributing Company, a beer distributor, was charged with violating Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 for refusing to hire Christopher Alston, a practicing Rastafarian, because he would not cut his hair. Alston’s religious beliefs forbid him from cutting his hair.  In the press release, the agency noted the release of a new “Fact Sheet on Religious Garb and Grooming in the Workplace” earlier this month.

In Houston, Texas, U.S. Steel Tubular Products was charged with violating Title VII for refusing to accommodate a job applicant in its drug screening process. Stephen Fasuyi, who belongs to the Nazirite sect of the Hebrew Israelite faith, refused on religious grounds to provide a hair sample cut from his scalp. Because the company had other testing means available, the EEOC claims his religious beliefs could and should have been accommodated. Instead, the company refused to hire him.

And in Detroit, Michigan, Feldman Automotive was charged with refusing to hire a job applicant because of his religious beliefs. Management expressed concerns to Brandan Allan regarding his views after learning of the non-denominational church he attends.

Since 2000, the number of charges filed by the EEOC based on religious discrimination has nearly doubled.