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Decostar Industries to Pay $38,500 to Settle EEOC Religious Discrimination Suit

Company Fired Employee Over Religious Sabbath Request, Federal Agency Charged

Decostar Industries, Inc., a manufacturer and supplier of automotive parts based in Carrollton, Ga., will pay $38,500 and provide other relief to settle a religious discrimination lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency recently announced.

The EEOC charged in its suit that Dina Lucas Velasquez made numerous requests to be excused from Decostar's requirement that all employees work overtime hours on designated Saturdays because her religious beliefs prohibited her from working during the Sabbath, which she observed from sundown on Friday until sundown Saturday. The EEOC claims that Decostar initially approved Velasquez's request for accommodation until January 2014, when a new supervisor took over her department and repeatedly denied her ongoing request for a religious accommodation. Decostar eventually discharged Velasquez on Oct. 27, 2014, after she refused to violate her religious beliefs.

Such alleged conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The EEOC filed suit in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia, Newnan Division after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.

In addition to providing monetary damages to Velasquez, the consent decree settling the lawsuit requires Decostar to adopt and implement a new policy for employees to request a religious accommodation for their bone fide religious beliefs. The decree also requires that the company provide annual equal employment opportunity training to its managers. The two-year decree further requires the company to post a notice to its employees about the lawsuit and to provide periodic reporting to EEOC about disability discrimination complaints.

"It is unconscionable and unlawful for employers to force members of their workforce to choose between their livelihood and their religion," said Antonette Sewell, regional attorney for the agency's Atlanta District Office. "This settlement shows the EEOC's dedication to the protection of religious freedom in the workplace as well as the company's commitment to prevent similar circumstances from arising in the future."

The EEOC advances opportunity in the workplace by enforcing federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. More information is available at www.eeoc.gov.