What are the responsibilities of your current (or most recent) employer with regard to the Family and Medical Leave Act?
Using the Library or other Web resources, identify and describe a case in which an employer’s activities were restricted due to religious rights of employees. Be sure to explain how the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s criteria for religious discrimination apply to the case.
The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) is an act under the Federal Government. The FMLA mandates covered employers to allow employees to take leave of up to 12 weeks when faced by certain circumstances (United States Department of Labor (DOL), n.d). The act assures employees of unpaid but job-protected absence from work due to family or health issues. In addition, the act guarantees employees of their continued insurance coverage and under similar conditions prior to taking leave. As earlier mentioned, the employer holds the responsibility to give the employee 12 weeks of unpaid leave under certain conditions. The FMLA outlines five major circumstances under which the employer should provide the employee with unpaid leave of up to 12 months.
The first circumstance involves birth of a child. The employer holds the responsibility to give the employee leave within a year following childbirth (DOL, n.d). Normally, the employer gives the employee leave within the first three months of childbirth. The second circumstance is where the employee adopts a child. The employer holds the responsibility to give the employee leave of up to 12 months and within a year following adoption (DOL, n.d). This also applies with foster care. The employer is responsible to allow the employee leave to take care of a child placed in his/her care.
The third circumstance is where the employee needs time off to take care of a sick family member (DOL, n.d). This applies in case of a child, spouse, and parent. The employer should give an employee a maximum of 12 weeks and within a year to take care of close family member who is sick. The fourth circumstance is where the employee suffers a serious health condition that renders him/her incapable of performing the job (DOL, n.d). The employer should give the employee time off to seek medical help to treat his/her condition. Lastly, the employer is responsible to give the employee leave if a close family member is a service member and needs care (DOL, n.d). This is known as the military caregiver leave.
FMLA assures employees of their job security and their eligibility to health insurance benefits even when they take leave. Nonetheless, there are certain exemptions or minimum requirements under the FMLA (FindLaw, 2017). For private employers, the act applies to those who have more than 50 employees and within the last five months. In addition, not all employees are eligible for leave under the FMLA. An employee must have worked for at least 12 months before taking leave and for more than 1,250 hours during this period (FindLaw, 2017). The last condition is that there must be more than 50 employees within a 75-mile radius for an individual to qualify for FMLA leave.
There have been numerous cases of religions discrimination facing organizations. One of the case involves HospitalityStaff, a staffing company based in Orlando. The company helps Central Florida’s hospitability industry fulfill its staffing requirements. In 2016, the company fired an employee due to his Rastafarian culture, which involved wearing of dreadlocks (EEOC, 2017). The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) filed a suit against HospitalityStaff alleging discrimination based on religion. According to EEOC, Courtney Joseph had his employment contract terminated after a routine inspection revealed he wears dreadlocks (EEOC, 2017). Joseph worked as a prep cook at Walt Disney World resort hotel. He had worked at the same position for three years between 2011 and 2013.
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Following a random inspection in 2013, Joseph was informed that he had to cut his hair short if he wanted to retain his job. This was despite having the dreadlocks as a form of religious observance as per the Rastafarian culture. HospitalityStaff agreed to pay $30,000 in damages (EEOC, 2017). In addition, the company had to change its employment policy by outlining a clear policy on religious discrimination. Under the new policy, the company had to make reasonable accommodations for people with disability and for different religions.
The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity commission’s criteria in dealing with religious discrimination apply to the above case. Religious discrimination involves treating an employee in an unfavorable manner due to his/her religious beliefs. The EEOC protects all those who hold sincere religious beliefs including traditional religious beliefs. According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) (n.d), the employer should not engage in unfair practices directed at employees due to their religious beliefs. In addition, the employer should provide reasonable accommodations for employee’s religious beliefs. This means that the employer should be able to tolerate the religious beliefs of the employees if they do not result to extra burden or costs to the organization (EEOC, n.d). HospitalityStaff should have allowed Joseph to wear dreadlocks in conformation to the Rastafarian culture since there were no costs or burden involved.
FindLaw. (2017). What is FMLA? FAQ on Federal Leave Law. Retrieved from http://employment.findlaw.com/family-medical-leave/what-is-fmla-faq-on-federal-leave- law.html
U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). (2017). HospitalityStaff to pay $30,000 to settle EEOC religious discrimination lawsuit. Retrieved from https://www1.eeoc.gov/eeoc/newsroom/release/6-14-17b.cfm
U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). (n.d). Religious discrimination. Retrieved from https://www.eeoc.gov/laws/types/religion.cfm