EEOC Sues Company for Firing Employee Who Refused to Be Fingerprinted

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Written By ESR News Blog Editor Thomas Ahearn

On June 17, 2021, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) – which enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination – filed a lawsuit against a company that fired an employee who refused to be fingerprinted during a background check due to his religious beliefs, according to an EEOC press release.

The lawsuit filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota claimed a Minnesota-based estate and probate debt recovery company that manages decedent debt recovery for creditors violated federal law when it fired a Christian employee instead of accommodating his request not to be fingerprinted due to his religion.

The company had requested that its employees be fingerprinted as a result of a background check requirement of one of its clients. Shortly after the Christian employee explained that having his fingerprints captured was contrary to his religious practices, he was fired despite alternatives to fingerprinting being available.

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits discrimination based on religion and requires employers to reasonably accommodate an applicant’s or employee’s religious practice unless it would pose an undue hardship. The EEOC filed suit after attempting to reach a settlement through its conciliation process.

“The EEOC is committed to enforcing the rights of religious employees, and Title VII requires that an employer attempt to find a workable solution when an employee’s sincerely held religious observance or practice conflicts with a work requirement,” EEOC regional attorney Gregory Gochanour stated in the press release.

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