Thursday, May 31, 2012

New York Transit Authority Settles Religious Accommodation Suit With Justice Department

The U.S. Department of Justice announced yesterday that it has reached a settlement agreement with the New York City Transit Authority in a Title VII religious discrimination case that the Department of Justice filed in 2004.  The suit alleges that after 9-11, NYCTA began enforcing its previously unenforced head wear policy in a discriminatory manner against Muslims and Sikhs.  The Transit Authority refused to accommodate religious beliefs that preclude attaching an NYCTA logo to a khimar or turban, moving non-complying employees out of public contact positions. Under yesterday's agreement, which still requires federal court approval, the Transit Authority must adopt new uniform head wear policies that allow employees in public contact positions to wear khimars, yarmulkes, turbans, kufis, skullcaps, tams and headscarves without attaching anything to them. It must also implement a new religious accommodation policy and train personnel in implementing it.  In addition, it must divide $184,500 in damages among current and former employees whose religious beliefs were not accommodated.