Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Muslim Employee Not Constructively Discharged For Refusing Friday Work

In Shah v. IMI's MN, Inc, (MN App, June 15, 2015), a Minnesota appeals court, in a 2-1 decision, agreed with an unemployment law judge that a Muslim employee of an optical store was not forced to resign because of failure to accommodate her need for religious reasons not to work on Fridays. While she was scheduled two different times to work on Fridays, on both times this was changed when she complained.  The majority concluded that her resignation did not result from requiring her to choose between violating her religious beliefs or losing her job. Thus she was not entitled to unemployment compensation benefits.

Judge Minge dissented, arguing that the case should be remanded for the unemployment law judge to determine whether the employer had made a commitment to accommodate the employee's religious beliefs in the future and whether the difficulties experienced by the employee over accommodation were a material cause of the health problems that led her to resign.