DOJ Files Religious Discrimination Complaint against Michigan City that Failed to Make Accommodations for a Seventh-day Adventist Employee

Written by on July 21, 2022

The U.S. Justice Department has filed a complaint against the city of Lansing, Michigan, accusing the city of religious discrimination against a woman who belongs to the Seventh-day Adventist Church.

According to The christian Post, the Department of Justice filed the suit last week in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Michigan, saying the city violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

The complaint said Lansing failed to give “reasonable accommodation” to Sylvia Coleman, a city employee, when she requested to be off from work from sunset Friday to sunset Saturday for religious reasons.

City spokesperson Scott Bean told Michigan Public Radio that the city is planning to fight the complaint, saying it was “inconsistent with the facts and the law.”

The complaint said that “prior to terminating Coleman’s employment, Lansing management did not establish that accommodating Coleman would cause undue hardship on the conduct of its operations.

“Coleman suffered emotional distress, pain and suffering, inconvenience, loss of enjoyment of life, humiliation, and other non-pecuniary damages as a result of Lansing’s discriminatory actions … Coleman suffered monetary loss as a result of Lansing’s discriminatory actions.”

In a statement this week, assistant attorney general Kristen Clarke of the DOJ’s Civil Rights Division said that religious discrimination has “no place in the workplace today.”

“Employees should not have to choose between their religion and their livelihood, particularly when the employer can accommodate their religious beliefs,” Clarke said.

“The Civil Rights Division is committed to protecting the religious rights and religious freedom of employees by ensuring that no one faces unlawful discrimination in the workplace,” she added.

Coleman worked as a detention officer with the police department beginning in 2018. She told the administration that she could not work sundown Friday to sundown Saturday.

But shortly after being hired, Coleman was scheduled to work a 12-hour shift on Saturday. She requested a different shift and also offered to work an overnight shift.

According to the complaint, her superiors required her to work the scheduled shift and then fired her.

Photo courtesy: ©Getty Images/Gromit702

Amanda Casanova is a writer living in Dallas, Texas. She has covered news for since 2014. She has also contributed to The Houston Chronicle, U.S. News and World Report and She blogs at The Migraine Runner.

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