Thursday, April 08, 2021

7th Circuit: Walmart Need Not Accommodate Seventh Day Adventist

In EEOC v. Walmart Stores East, L.P., (7th Cir., March 31, 2021), the U.S. 7th Circuit Court of Appeals, in a 2-1 decision, held that accommodating the scheduling need of a Seventh Day Adventist would impose an undue burden on Walmart. The majority, in an opinion by Judge Easterbrook, said in part:

According to the EEOC, Walmart could have offered Hedican several accommodations that would have enabled him to be an assistant manager. One would have been to give him that job and let him trade shifts with other assistant managers. But that would not be an accommodation by the employer, as Title VII contemplates. This proposal would thrust on other workers the need to accommodate Hedican’s religious beliefs. That’s not what the statute requires..... Title VII does not require an employer to offer an “accommodation” that comes at the expense of other workers.

Judge Rovner dissented, saying in part:

Although Ahern considered whether it might be feasible to adjust other assistant managers’ schedules in some manner (including voluntary shift‐trades) so that Hedican would never have to work on a Friday night or Saturday, one thing she did not do is consult with the other managers in making her assessment....

Discussion of the difficulty of accommodating Hedican brings to mind the sorts of excuses employers long trotted out for why it was impractical to hire women of child‐bearing age....

JD Supra reports on the decision.