EEOC Sues Convergys Corporation For Religious Discrimination
ST. LOUIS -- The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) today filed suit against Convergys Corporation, charging that the relationship management company violated federal law by refusing to hire a call center employee who could not work on Saturdays due to his religion.
In its lawsuit, the EEOC charged that Convergys refused to hire Shannon Fantroy when he told them he could not work on Saturdays because of his Hebrew Israelite religion. Fantroy had answered an online advertisement for a customer service position at Convergys’s call center in Hazelwood, Mo. The ad stated that a successful candidate should be able to work a flexible work schedule and/or overtime as required, the EEOC said. Fantroy’s religious beliefs require him to observe the Sabbath from sunup until sundown on Saturday and he can conduct no business at all during these hours. A recruiter for Convergys interviewed Fantroy and told him that he would have to work weekends. Fantroy told her that he was unable to work on Saturdays due to his religious beliefs. The recruiter then told Fantroy that the interview was over unless he could work Saturdays, the EEOC said.
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits religious discrimination and requires employers to make reasonable accommodations to employees’ and applicants’ sincerely held religious beliefs as long as this does not pose an undue hardship. The EEOC filed its lawsuit in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri in St. Louis (EEOC v. Convergys Corporation, 4:11-CV-00395) after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. The EEOC seeksfront pay, back pay, compensatory and punitive damages for Fantroy and injunctive relief, including training for all Convergys recruiters on religious accommodations.
“Giving an employee an alternative schedule in such a large call center should not be impossible,” said Barbara A. Seely, regional attorney for the EEOC's St. Louis District Office. “Refusing to hire a person in this situation without even discussing a possible accommodation for his religion is unlawful discrimination.”
According to company information, Cincinnati-based Convergys is a global provider of customer relationship management services that employs about 560 people at its Hazelwood, Mo., call center facility and more than 70,000 people worldwide.