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Wgu Jdt Task 1

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Submitted By khinck
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From: Insert Name
Re: Constructive Discharge Claim
I was notified by the corporate attorney about a former employee filing a claim for Constructive Discharge under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Upon notification I did the following research into the position we as a company need to take.

How is constructive discharge relevant as a legal concept to the current scenario?

At the beginning of this year the company implemented a new work shift policy to keep up with the growth of the organization. The policy requires that employee’s in the production group work 12 hour shifts with 4 days on then 4 days off in a rotating manner. This means that at times some employee’s will be working on a religious holy day.

The former employee is claiming constructive discharge as the reason for his leaving the company. Constructive discharge is a discriminatory practice where an employee is forced to resign because of a perceived intolerable work environment. The court system generally agree with the employee if it is determined that a reasonable person would feel the same way if in the same position (Dempsey & Petsche, 2006). The courts also will usually require that the employee show that the intolerable working condition with the intent of forcing the resignation was deliberate (Dempsey & Petsche, 2006). Also our former employee, the plaintiff, must show prima facie evidence that such discrimination has occurred (Gomez-Mejia, Balkin & Cardy, 2009). Such evidence in cases of religious discrimination includes that first the plaintiff had a genuine religious belief that conflicted with their duties, second, the plaintiff informed the employer of the beliefs and third, that the employer subjected the plaintiff to discriminatory treatment (Gregory Lawson v State of Washington, 2002).

From what I have learned through my research constructive discharge did not occur in this situation and I highly recommend that the company defend itself in court.

Areas under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 relevant to the company’s issue.

One of the provisions under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 that pertains to religious accommodations states that “employer is required to reasonably accommodate the religious beliefs of an employee or prospective employee, unless doing so would impose an undue hardship”. The company’s former employee is claiming that the required shift change will include working on religious holy days. The previous shift schedule did not include weekend work days. It is section 703 (a) of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 that pertains to unlawful employment practices of an employer in regards to discrimination of compensation, terms, conditions and privilege doe to an employee’s religion or to limit employment opportunities of the employee because of the employee’s religion.

The former employee quit without bringing his concerns to the company. There was no motive of deliberate discharge by the company. In David A. Goldmeier and Terry C. Goldmeier v Allstate Insurance Company (2003), the Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit dismissed the plaintiff’s complaint for religious discrimination. Allstate was going to require all offices to be open on Friday and Saturday. The Goldmeier’s at that time were licensed insurance agents for Allstate. They resigned because they are Sabbath observant Orthodox Jews and cannot work on Fridays or Saturdays. Allstate informed the court that the Goldmeier’s resigned and had not been disciplined or discharged by Allstate. There is a clear similarity between this case and the one brought about by our former employee. Our former employee quit of his own volition because the new rotating shift schedule could have a workday fall on one of their holy days. The former employee was not deliberately discharged nor disciplined over the issue. Allstate knew of the Goldmeier’s issue and made efforts to work out the problem. Even with all the effort Allstate put forward the Goldmeier’s still quit and claimed constructive discharge. In the company’s case the former employee never brought his issues to management.

The former employee also bears the burden of proving his prima facie case. In Lawson v State of Washington (2002), Washington State won over Lawson on a claim of constructive discharge on religious discrimination. Lawson showed that he had a genuine religious belief that conflicted with his duties and that he had informed his employer about his beliefs. The 3rd prima facie of proving discharge for failing to comply with the requirements that caused the conflict was not accepted by the court because Lawson quit of his own volition. In the company’s case proving this will result in the same ruling as the former employee quit on his own and there was no threat of discharge or discipline on part of the company. The schedule change was for all employees and not just the former employee. And the company was never informed by the former employee of the religious belief that is genuine and sincere that was in conflict with the new duties. This shows that the former employee cannot prove the 2nd prima facie either. The former employee may be able to prove the 1st prima facie but that will be the only one.

The company can show to the courts that the accommodation of such a religious practice would result in undue hardship for the company. The shift change is being made due to the growth of the company. Not doing this will result in significant financial losses due to lost opportunities. In EEOC v, Townley Engineering and Manufacturing (1988) the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals granted the EEOC’s motion for summary judgment on 2 issues regarding religious service attendance of employees. But they denied summary judgment on constructive discharge on behalf of a former employee. Townley Engineering and Manufacturing is a company borne out of faith and required its employees to attend religious services. All employees are made fully aware of this requirement at their time of hire. The former employee made a complaint that this requirement was a conflict with his own religious beliefs. Undue hardship was one of the defenses Townley used. The courts did not see excusing the former employee from attending the mandatory services as causing undue hardship. In our company’s situation proving undue hardship will be much easier and clear cut. Without the schedule change our business will not be able to grow with the demand. This is a valid reasoning for undue hardship.

The shift change is not abusive or hostile as to make people with similar beliefs to those of our former employee leave the company or we would have had a mass exodus of employees. Only this former employee has had an issue with the new shift schedule change.

Steps recommended to avoid issues in regards to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964:

1. Schedule employee meetings when major changes are to be implemented. Include the employee’s in the decision process so that they can take ownership of changes to be made. 2. During the interview process the company needs to address this issue. It needs to be made clear to prospective new employees that they will be working a rotating shift and they will have to work the occasional weekend. 3. A new form should be drafted that new employee’s will sign as part of the new hire packet. 4. All files pertaining to applications, new hire packets, performance evaluations and any management additions shall be maintained in a safe and orderly manner. 5. Management should have monthly trainings on employment and human resource laws and updates to such.


Dempsey, G. & Petsche, J. (2006)[->0]

EEOC v Townley Engineering and Manufacturing Co., 859 F.2d 610 9th Circuit (1988)

Goldmeier and Goldmeier v Allstate Insurance Co. 337 F.3d 629 6th Circuit (2003)

Gomez-Mejia, L., Balkin, D., and Cardy, R. (2009) Managing Human Resources, 6th Edition (87-112)

Lawson v State of Washington, DJDAR 7791 9th Circuit (2002)[->1]

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