FR: Julie Parks, Elementary Division Manager
Re: Former Production Employee Lawsuit
In the case of our former employee filing a claim based on Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, based of the new shift schedule change does not meet the constructive discharge definition. A construction discharge, as defined through several court cases highlighted in The University of Chicago Law Review (1986), as an employee who resigns because of unlawful discrimination that made it intolerable to continue to work because we, the employer, made the changes with the intent of forcing the employee to resign or we were unresponsive to a harassment complaint. This former employee alleges that by changing our shift schedules to four twelve hour days on a rotational calendar, to meet market demand, we have discriminated against him on the basis of his religion.
In reviewing the case law on constructive discharge it appears that that courts have applied two different tests to determine if constructive discharge has occurred. The first test is the reasonable person test. This test was highlighted in the 1975 Young v. Southwestern Savings and Loan Association case. That case did recognize that constructive discharge claims could be brought under Title VII, but highlighted that if the employer deliberately makes an employees working conditions so intolerable that the employee is forced that would meet the grounds for constructive discharge. It also uses the measure, according to the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court for the plaintiff to demonstrate that the employer intended to force the employee to quit. The second test the courts have applied is the Specific Intent Test. The court case example here is Muller v. United States Steel Corporation. This test would require our former employee to show that we created these conditions with the specific intent to cause him to resign.
The change in the production team’s schedule was intended to meet the market demand for our products. This employee allegedly left his job because the schedule might have forced him to work on holy days. According the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission the former employee is citing the Reasonable Accommodation and Religion, Title 7 of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (42 U.S.C. 2000e-2(a)(1), which prohibits employment discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex or national origin. This law and section require religious accommodations such as: Employers are required to reasonable accommodate the religious belief of an employee, unless doing so would impose an undue hardship on our company (U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission). This section of the code described the ideas of disparate treatment and the employer’s failure to accommodate.
There is no evidence that the employee ever brought his religious concerns to his supervisor, HR, or any other management level employee at the company before he chose to resign. It is unclear if religious reasons were the only reason for his resignation. If Human Resources had been notified of his concerns we could have acted to assist this employee. That should be one of the basis for our defense in this case. There seems to be no evidence of our failure to accommodate this employee that is cited in the EEOC information on the Civil Rights Act, because this employee did not inform the company of his religious issue. There is support for this in the case of Johnson v. Bunny Bread Company in 1984. That case stated that the employee involved did not demonstrate objective intolerability. We did not intend to force the employee in this case to resign and we treated all production employees the same way.
Our second response to the charge of construction discharge should relate to the lack of hostile work environment. The change in schedule was not intended nor was it “severe or pervasive” to create an abusive working environment as was cited in the Henson v. City of Dundee case (2014, EEOC