Case Review: Muslims religious rights
A manufacturing company has recruited 24 Muslim workers out of 64. However the company has expressed concerns their religious practices and beliefs may lead to legal problems. Two issues take center stage that is the sundown prayer and the holy month of Ramadan. As such I would highlight the main issues that the company may face and how to avoid conflict using the case of Toledo.
Summary of facts
The facts in this case were similar to the one we are studying as it involved religious practice. The plaintiff submitted an application for a job as a truck driver for Nobel-Sysco Inc in early March 1984. The defendant major business included distribution of equipment, edibles, and other supplies to consumers in an expansive area of: Colorado, Wyoming, New Mexico, and Arizona. The job required truck drivers to make deliveries in these states throughout the week and under minimal supervision ((Toledo v Nobel-Sysco, 1989).
Nobel replied to Toledo’s application and slated an interview at its Albuquerque office. The defendant’s office manager Rodney Plagmann supervised the process. Having satisfied the corporation as to the basic qualifications and relevant experience the next step would include four tests regularly given to all applicants. One of the test that culminated to this case was a polygraph test to enquire into genuineness and credibility of the interviewee reply to questions about past illegal drug use. The defendant company had made it a policy not to consider candidates who had history of drug consumption and more specifically two years preceding their job application (Toledo v Nobel-Sysco, 1989).
Coincidentally, the plaintiff was a congregant at the Native American Church that allowed use of a plant called peyote in church ceremonies; the plaintiff had partake peyote on two different times in the past six months.
The Office manager told Toledo the company would probably not hire him but first consulted with defendant’s director of personnel. He shared the result of the process with other senior personnel of the company who advised against hiring the plaintiff. Feeling aggrieved, Toledo instituted a claim of race and national origin discrimination under both Title VII and 42 U.S.C. § 1981 (Toledo v Nobel-Sysco, 1989).
The main issue for determination in this case was, first, whether Noble deviated from Title VII obligation to provide a reasonable accommodation for the religious beliefs and discriminated the claimant on basis of race and national discrimination. Second, Whether Noble would have suffered undue hardship by excusing Toledo before and after church ceremonies? The Muslim workers when forced to work during the holy month and at prayer time may allege a violation of their religious rights.
The plaintiff argued in the district and appellate court that the defendant offended Title VII ” 42 U.S.C. § 2000 e-2 (Toledo v Nobel-Sysco, 1989). Briefly, the section makes it unlawful employment practice for an employer to fail or refuse to hire or to discharge any individual because of such individual’s religion. Title VII defines religion to include religious observance, belief and practice, except where an employer shows that he is unable to reasonably accept an employee’s religious observance, belief and practice, without undue hardship on the demeanor of the employer’s business (Toledo v Nobel-Sysco, 1989).
The bench trial court made a finding in favor of Noble on religious discrimination. The court was of the opinion that even if the plaintiff had set out a prima facie case on religious discrimination ground, an offer made on July in the course of the HRC proceedings constituted reasonable accommodation of Toledo’s religious practices. Moreover, the district court refused to award the plaintiff back pay for the four months between the discriminatory act and the accommodation offer because Toledo had not proved he was entitled to any amount (Toledo v Nobel-Sysco, 1989).
On the issue of reasonable accommodation, the Supreme Court relied on the decision in Ansonia Bd. of Educ. v. Philbrook, 479 US (1986) where the court observed that the reasonable accommodation duty was fused into the law, rather clumsily, while defining of religion. The sitting court held that, the intent and effect of this definition of religion is to make it a violation of § 2000e-2(a) (1) for an employer not to make reasonable accommodations, short of undue hardship, for the religious practice of employees and prospective employees (Toledo v Nobel-Sysco, 1989).
Noticeably, the lower court adopted two tests and which was successfully proved by Toledo: the plaintiff has the burden of establishing a prima facie case and second test involve proof of reasonable accommodation which Noble managed by making settlement offers. The court also considered that Toledo never used Peyote outside church ceremonies and could therefore put safety measures. Regarding the back pay, Title VII presumes that plaintiff’s refusal of a defendant’s job offer normally clips the defendant’s ongoing responsibility for back pay (Toledo v Nobel-Sysco Inc, 1989). However, the court was categorical that once Toledo established a claim on discrimination he ought to avail evidence on damages. The appeal court agreed with the district court on the claim of racial and national discrimination because Toledo failed to produce evidence that Noble is a peyote-free driver.
The court decided that the issue raised in the case did not touch on the First Amendment but squarely lied under Title VII. Therefore, our case the manufacturing company will offend the Muslim workers practice belief and observance of the religious activities and thus discrimination, this is mainly construed according to Toledo’s case. However, the company can present evidence of reasonable accommodation where it provides a room within the facility for the Muslim workers to pray, moreover, they can put measures to ensure that at sundown their shift could be coming to an end.
Toledo v. Nobel-Sysco, Inc., 892 F.2d 1481 (10th Cir. 1989)