Updates on cases, laws, and other topics of interest to local governments

Subscribe by Email

Enter your Email:
Preview | Powered by FeedBlitz

Subscribe in a Reader

Follow Municipal Minute on Twitter


Blog comments do not reflect the views or opinions of the Author or Ancel Glink. Some of the content may be considered attorney advertising material under the applicable rules of certain states. Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome. Please read our full disclaimer

Monday, November 26, 2012

City Did Not Discriminate Against Employee Based on Religion

A police records division employee filed a lawsuit against the City of Chicago claiming that the City discriminated against her on the basis of her religion and retaliated against her for engaging in protected activity.  The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of the City, finding no discrimination on the basis of religion. Porter v. City of Chicago (November 8, 2012).

The employee worked in the Chicago Police Department's records division, which operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Employees are assigned to 8-hour shifts, with assigned days-off.  When the employee was reassigned to a Friday/Saturday days-off group, she requested a reassignment to the Sunday/Monday days-off group because she was involved in her church and sang in the church choir. Her request was approved.  Five months later, she requested another change to her schedule to allow her to attend church classes on Saturday mornings, which was also approved.  

Shortly thereafter, she took FMLA leave and a medical leave of absence.  Upon her return to work, she was assigned to the Friday/Saturday days off group. She requested a reassignment to the Sunday/Monday group because of her church involvement but because of a shift imbalance, she was told she would have to wait until there was an opening in the Sunday/Monday days off group before she could be reassigned.  Alternatively, she was told she could change to the evening shift to accomodate her church activities. Instead, she stayed on her assigned shift and for the four-month period between the reassignment, was absent from work on 34 days, 16 of which were Sundays. She also filed grievances against the City, an EEOC charge, and finally a lawsuit against the City, claiming she was harassed and discriminated against because of her religion. 

The district court ruled that the City had reasonably accomodated Porter's religious practice and the Seventh Circuit agreed, ruling that a "reasonable accomodation" need not be the employee's preferred accomodation or the accomodation most benefical to the employee. Here, the City had suggested she switch to a later shift and also offered the next available opening in the Sunday/Monday days-off group. The Court determined that the shift change was a reasonable accomodation because it would eliminate the conflict between her work schedule and her religious practice on Sunday mornings. The fact that Porter did not want to work the later shift did not make the City's proposed accomodation unreasonable.

Post Authored by Julie Tappendorf, Ancel Glink


Post a Comment