Tuesday, August 21, 2007

County Ordered to Accommodate Church-Going Park Ranger

How many of us have to work a job on a Sunday? I'm one of the lucky ones where I basically work 8-4, Monday - Friday. I do occasionally get called in to do something quick on the weekend, but it's very, very rare, and I don't mind that. But I would not want to work a full day on a Sunday and miss church. That is "my" day to attend church and to spend it however I want... I have several family members who do have jobs that require them to work on Sundays. I know that my sister quit one job because she asked to be off Sunday mornings for church and they continually would put her on the schedule to work Sunday mornings. It didn't matter that other workers were sitting at home, not attending church, for some reason, they constantly scheduled her for those Sunday mornings.

Well here's the story of one man who won his battle of working on Sundays. *applause!!!*

By Susan Jones
CNSNews.com Senior Editor
August 14, 2007

(CNSNews.com) - A former park ranger in Palm Beach County, Fla., will get his old j
ob back, if he wants it, and he won't have to work on Sundays.

Under an agreement with the U.S. Justice Department, Palm Beach County has resolved allegations that it engaged in employment discrimination based on religion.

Specifically, the county was accused of violating Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act by refusing to reasonably accommodate a park ranger's request for a work schedule that would allow him to attend church and refrain from work on Sundays.

The park ranger, who resigned when the county refused his Sundays-off request, also will get back pay and retroactive pension contributions, the Justice Department announced.

In addition, the county has agreed to enforce its existing religious accommodation policy and train supervisors to ensure that they properly handle future requests for religious accommodations.

"Public employees should not have to choose between their religious practices and their livelihood," said Wan J. Kim, assistant attorney general for the Civil Rights Division.

"While public employers have the authority to set reasonable standards for work schedules, they cannot reflexively refuse to consider a request for a religious accommodation, particularly where the employer has a policy that has granted other employees similar religious accommodations."

A federal judge must now approve the consent decree.

The South Florida Sun-Sentinel quoted Palm Beach County Administrator Bob Weisman as saying that the county is not admitting any wrongdoing. He said the park ranger was asked to work on weekends and he objected: "We're a seven-day-a-week operation," Weisman was quoted as saying.

County officials reportedly agreed to the deal to avoid prolonged litigation.

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