Operator wrongly required employees to work on Sabbath, EEOC alleges

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Operator wrongly required employees to work on Sabbath, EEOC alleges
Operator wrongly required employees to work on Sabbath, EEOC alleges

A Tennessee senior living community violated federal law by requiring two employees to work on Saturdays, which they observed as the Sabbath, alleged the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in a lawsuit filed Thursday.

According to the EEOC, the two workers at Garden Plaza at Greenbriar Cove, a Century Park Associates independent living community in Ooltewah, TN, were members of the Seventh-Day Adventist Church and observed the Sabbath from sundown Friday to sundown Saturday.

The company reportedly told them that a new work schedule would necessitate their working on Saturdays. The employees offered to work on Sundays, according to the lawsuit, but the company declined. The employees resigned on request when they said they would not be able to work under the terms of the new schedule, the agency said. They sought to have their jobs reinstated and religious accommodations made, but the owner denied their request, according to the EEOC.

The agency said that Century Park's alleged conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits employers from denying reasonable accommodation of an employee's sincerely held religious beliefs. The EEOC said it is seeking back pay and compensatory and punitive damages for the two former employees and would like the court to prohibit Century Park from denying religious accommodations in the future.

The agency said it filed the lawsuit in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Tennessee, Southern Division, after trying to reach a pre-litigation settlement with the company.

Century Park Associates and sister company Life Care Centers of America declined to comment on the case.

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