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EEOC goes after utility company for religious discrimination

Earlier this week, our post focused on the bleak jobs landscape in Florida. According to an analysis of U.S. Census data, Florida leads the nation in long-term unemployment.

With this in mind, it is especially important for victims of workplace discrimination or other illegal employment actions to pursue justice. If you have been a victim of wrongful termination or some other injustice, it may not be an option to simply look for another job.

Although it was not filed in Florida, a recent lawsuit highlights the importance of standing up for employee rights. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) recently filed a lawsuit against a utility company in Fayetteville, Arkansas, for allegedly violating the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

According to the lawsuit, the incident involved a woman who formerly worked as a call center customer service representative. She is a Jehovah's Witness, and the EEOC says that she was fired when she asked her employer for a day off so she could attend a religious convention.

Commenting on the lawsuit, an EEOC district representative said: "This employee's request was so modest and minor it is astounding the company not only refused it, but also fired her. Employees should never be forced to choose between their religion and their job."

Sadly, this is hardly a unique case. Data from the EEOC reveals that religion discrimination charges increased 9.5 percent last year compared to 2010. Hopefully, the sharp increase in EEOC complaints is a sign that more employees are beginning to stand up for their rights, especially when facing a squeezed job market.

Source: BusinessInsurance.com, "EEOC sues utility company in firing of Jehovah's Witness," Judy Greenwald, Jan. 30, 2012

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