U.S. Steel Subsidiary to Pay $150,000 to Settle EEOC Religious Discrimination and Retaliation Suit
Houston Company Revoked Job Offer to Nazirite Applicant Whose Religion Forbids Cutting Hair From Scalp, Federal Agency Charged
A Houston manufacturing facility has agreed to pay $150,000 and to provide other significant relief to settle a religious discrimination and retaliation lawsuit brought by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency recently announced. The EEOC charged in its suit that U.S. Steel Tubular Products, Inc. (USSTP), a subsidiary of United States Steel Corporation, violated federal law by revoking a worker's job offer because of his religion and in retaliation for insisting that his religious practices be accommodated. USSTP denied the allegations.
According to the EEOC's suit, Stephen Fasuyi applied for a utility technician position in November 2011 at a facility in Houston and received an oral employment offer. The job offer was contingent upon his successful completion of a pre-employment drug test. Fasuyi belongs to the Nazirite sect of the Hebrew Israelite faith, and he sincerely believes that the Old Testament forbids him from cutting hair from his scalp. During a hair follicle drug test the same day he received a job offer, he declined to have a lock of his hair cut starting at the scalp, but he offered alternatives, such as pulling hair from his beard, which seemed consistent with the drug test protocol. Fasuyi nevertheless was instructed to go home without the examination being completed, and was denied the opportunity to re-test on a different date.
Fasuyi subsequently applied for other vacancies at USSTP, including another utility technician position for which he initially was scheduled for an interview, only to have the interview later canceled by the company.
The EEOC contended that Fasuyi's religious beliefs should have been accommodated during the pre-employment testing, and that USSTP ultimately denied him employment because of his religion and in retaliation for his opposing what he believed to be religious discrimination. Such alleged conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits discrimination because of religion and prohibits retaliation. The EEOC filed suit in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas, Houston Division (Civil Action No. 4:14cv2747) after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.
Under the terms of a two-year consent decree settling the case, USSTP will pay $150,000 in monetary relief and has agreed to other relief in resolving this matter.
"We are pleased to have reached what we believe to be a fair resolution, and are confident that USSTP is committed to considering accommodation requests from job applicants of faith," said EEOC Houston District Regional Attorney Rudy Sustaita.
The EEOC advances opportunity in the workplace by enforcing federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. More information is available at www.eeoc.gov.