The delivery company was sued for religious discrimination. They agreed to settle the case with a large payout.
About The Lawsuit
United Parcel Service (UPS) was accused of utilizing practices that discriminate against some religious groups. They allegedly have policies about personal appearance that “exclude Muslims, Sikhs, Rastafarians and other religious groups from equal participation and advancement in the workforce.”
The case was brought to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). Elizabeth Fox-Solomon took the lead and stated that UPS does not allow male supervisors or drivers to have beards or grow their hair past the collar. Such policies do not accommodate certain religious practices and were therefore deemed discriminatory.
According to the EEOC, these practices have been active since 2005. As a result, UPS has allegedly refused to hire or promote numerous individuals who had long hair or beards due to their religious beliefs. The EEOC further alleged that the only positions available to these individuals included non-supervisory jobs that do not have any customer contact.
A lawsuit against UPS was initially filed in July 2015. It claimed that the delivery company violated the Civil Rights Act which requires employers to make reasonable accommodations for an employee’s religious beliefs. The only exception to that law is if doing so would create an undue hardship on the employer. This was not considered to be the case for UPS.
An attorney for UPS said: "For far too long, applicants and employees at UPS have been forced to choose between violating their religious beliefs and advancing their careers at UPS.” The EEOC hoped their suit would cause the delivery company to change their allegedly discriminatory policies.
After a three-year case, UPS agreed to a $4.9 million settlement. Participants in the class action suit include former applicants and employees who were allegedly discriminated against while on the job or attempting to procure employment.
UPS also agreed to accommodate applicants and employees based on their religious beliefs and practices. They will provide training for individuals who seek supervisory positions or jobs that involve contact with the public. Going forward, UPS will also periodically report to the EEOC about their ongoing efforts. The EEOC’s Fox-Solomon stated that she appreciates the steps UPS is taking to update and revise their internal policies.
Takeaway For Employers
It is a violation of federal law to discriminate against applicants or employees based on their religion or other protected factors. Every employer is encouraged to review their hiring and employment policies with legal counsel to help ensure they are not discriminatory in any way. Having policies that discriminate against people because of their religion, gender, ethnicity and other factors could lead to costly lawsuits and negative publicity.
An important step towards ensuring your hiring policies are fair is to have consistent background screening practices for every candidate or employee. If you need help creating background check packages that are fair, transparent and comprehensive enough to help you make informed hiring decisions, please contact us. Our highly trained team is available to answer questions and assist you Monday through Friday from 5am to 6pm PT.