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Another Worker Sues for Being Forced to Work on Sundays

May 19th, 2023

The conservative Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals recently ruled in favor of a Texas judge who begins his proceedings with courtroom prayers.
A cook at IHOP is suing his former employer for religious discrimination after the company fired him for refusing to work on Sundays.

You may recall that just a few weeks ago the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in the case of a postal worker who was apparently forced to work on Sundays – despite his religious views. This case has the potential to mark a significant change in US employment law, and the verdict could send shockwaves through the entire nation. If this postal worker wins his case, employers may be forced to treat their workers very differently and accommodate a wide range of other demands – even if they are not related to religion. 

But now it seems like other workers are joining this legal battle. Even before the Supreme Court makes its final decision, which could happen any day, some are also standing up for their religious rights – stressing that they, too, have been forced to work on Sundays despite their religious beliefs. The latest worker is an IHOP chef from North Carolina. But what is his story? 

IHOP Sued for Forcing Chef to Work on Sundays

An IHOP in Charlotte, North Carolina, is now being sued for allegedly forcing a worker to take shifts on Sundays. This individual was apparently granted religious accommodation at first, with the general manager agreeing not to schedule him on those days so that he could keep the Sabbath holy. But while the company initially seemed to respect the worker’s Christian views, a new manager eventually shifted his view on the matter – allegedly becoming “hostile” and demanding that the worker take two Sunday shifts. 

The worker agreed to take two of the Sunday shifts. After the second shift, he stood up for his rights and stressed that he would not do this again in the future – regardless of whether he was scheduled for those shifts. This outright refusal was met with even more hostility from the manager. When the worker showed up for work the next day, he was informed that he was no longer employed. In other words, he was fired on the spot for refusing to work on Sundays in the future. 

The Lawsuit & Involvement of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission

The lawsuit alleges that IHOP (owned by the parent company Suncakes), violated the Civil Rights Act. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is already involved, which tells you that this lawsuit has a solid chance of success. The government organization is seeking back pay, compensatory, and punitive damages on behalf of the employee. There is also a move to create a court order that would prevent IHOP from future acts of religious discrimination. 

An EEOC representative stressed:

“It is unlawful for an employer to take adverse action against an employee because the employee asserted his rights relating to a religious accommodation.”

IHOP has not issued a public statement on the matter. One has to wonder whether the EEOC has inside knowledge of the pending Supreme Court case involving the USPS worker. If the court rules in favor of the postal worker, a precedent could be set that affects all similar employment situations in the future. 

Keep Informed with the Universal Life Church

Each month, various cases test the nature of religious rights in this country. While the basis for many religious rights is the United States Constitution, there are still countless cases that question the exact nature of these rights. The Universal Life Church’s blog is focused on documenting the most noteworthy of these cases in an objective manner that can be easily understood by readers.

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