EEOC Wins Religious Discrimination Suit With Convergys

Filed under: Discrimination,Labor,Legal,News |

By LAURA LIEBECK– During a 2011 job interview Shannon Fantroy, told a Convergys Customer Management Group recruiter that he observes the Jewish sabbeth — which is from sundown on Friday to sundown on Saturday — and could not work on Saturdays.

The recruiter for a call center in Hazelwood, Mo., told Fantroy that unless he agrees to work weekends, the job interview was over, and then terminated the interview, according to reports.

The recruiter’s action cost Convergys $15,000 and an agreement to abide by the terms of a legal consent decree, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), announced 16 February 2012. Convergys Customer Management Group, is a subsidiary of Cincinnati-based Convergys Corp., a global provider of customer management service

The EEOC filed a religious discrimination suit against Convergys, EEOC v. Convergys Customer Management Group, 4:11-cv-00395-AGF, after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement.

“Mr. Fantroy never had a chance to discuss accommodation options because the recruiter simply cut him off once he stated that because of his religious beliefs he could not work on Saturday,” said Barbara A. Seely, regional attorney for the EEOC’s St. Louis office. “Giving an employee an alternate schedule where hundreds of employees are available to cover the shift was not an unreasonable request.

“The new procedures, training and notice to applicants provided for in the decree should allow applicants to request and obtain a reasonable accommodation based upon their religious needs,” Seely said. “Other call center employers around the country should take note of these requirements.”

U.S. District Court Judge Audrey Fleissig must sign and approve the consent decree to settle the lawsuit.

The consent decree will:
• Provide additional settlement relief that includes Convergys recruiters receive training on religious discrimination and accommodation law.
• Impart a new company procedure that allows applicants to request a religious accommodation once they are offered a job.
• Update interview policy to require the interview application process be completed even if the applicant informs the recruiter of the need for a religious observance accommodation.
• All job applicants will receive written notice that they may be entitled to a religious accommodation during the decree’s two-year term.

“The settlement announced today is in no way an admission of any wrongdoing or violations by Convergys, but instead represents a decision by Convergys to amicably resolve this matter and to avoid protracted litigation regarding this issue,” said Amy Williams, senior manager in public relations at Convergys Corp., in a statement reported by the St. Louis Business Journal. “Convergys’ corporate policy is to operate in full compliance with all applicable federal and state employment discrimination laws.”

Convergys has had other workplace issues including a class-action lawsuit filed against the company in January 2011. At that time, several Convergys Corp. call center agents filed suit in the Eastern District of Texas, alleging that Convergys did not pay employees for work they conducted before and after their shifts.

Religious discrimination in the workplace is prohibited by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Employers are required to make reasonable accommodations to employees’ and applicants’ who sincerely hold religious beliefs so long as this does not pose an undue hardship on the company.

According to the EEOC, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended, prohibits discrimination in hiring, promotion, discharge, pay, fringe benefits, job training, classification, referral, and other aspects of employment, on the basis of race, color, religion, sex or national origin.

For further information regarding the EEOC and its jurisdiction, visit

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