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Cottle Strawberry Nursery -- a company that has packed, shipped, and grown vegetables for over fifty years -- has agreed to pay $12,500 to settle a discrimination lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity (EEOC).

The litigation claimed that Cottle “violated federal law when it refused to accommodate an employee’s religious belief and fired her because of her religion, Seventh-day Adventist,” reads the EEOC’s press release.

Helen Perez’s faith forbids her from doing any labor during the Biblical Sabbath, which starts during the sunset on Fridays, and ends after the sunset on Saturday. Employed as a seasonal worker for the company from 2016-2018, she was not initially compelled to work on weekends. But in 2018, employees were required to work seven days a week. (When she informed the company of her practices, Perez was subsequently fired.)

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 “requires employers to make reasonable accommodations for employees’ sincerely-held religious beliefs absent undue hardship.”

“No employee should be forced to choose between her faith and her job,” said Kara G. Haden acting regional attorney for the EEOC’s Charlotte District Office.

Along with the $12,500, the company was required to develop and implement appropriate policies so this illegal employment practice will not reoccur.

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If you are a victim of discrimination, of any kind, please contact one of our Civil Rights attorneys at 212-619-5400.

To read the full press release, click here: https://www.eeoc.gov/eeoc/newsroom/release/2-6-20.cfm