Sherman & Howard Continues Its Winning Streak Against the EEOC

DENVER, Colo. (February 4, 2021) — For more than a decade, Heather Vickles, Kelly Robinson, and Matthew Morrison have represented JBS USA, LLC in a long-running court battle against the EEOC and several hundred Muslim employees, who have repeatedly attempted to expand Title VII’s requirement that employers accommodate religious practices in the workplace. In particular, the EEOC has argued that a failure to accommodate a religious practice is, by itself, a violation of Title VII. In September 2018, following a four-week trial, the Sherman & Howard team won a complete victory on all of the EEOC’s so-called pattern or practice claims and, in doing so, convinced the court that an employer’s failure to accommodate a religious practice is not, standing alone, enough to prove an employer violated Title VII; a plaintiff must also connect the failure to accommodate to an “adverse employment action.” Last week, the Sherman & Howard team convinced the trial court to reject the EEOC’s most recent attempt to expand Title VII and revive its religious accommodation claims.

In October 2020, the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals issued an opinion in Exby-Stolley v. Board of County Commissioners, addressing disability accommodation requirements under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The Tenth Circuit held that workers who claim their employer failed to accommodate a disability do not need to show they suffered an adverse employment action, like being fired or demoted, to sue under the ADA.

In a December 2020 motion for reconsideration, the EEOC attempted to argue that Exby-Stolley and its reasoning should also apply to religious accommodation claims under Title VII and should resurrect the agency’s pattern or practice accommodation claims against JBS. The Sherman & Howard team convinced the trial court to reject that argument. On January 25, 2021, the trial court held, the reasoning in Exby-Stolley is limited to accommodation claims under the ADA and cannot be transferred to religious accommodation claims under Title VII. The court again agreed with the Sherman & Howard team that, under Title VII, a plaintiff must show more than an employer’s mere failure to accommodate a religious practice—the plaintiff must also show that the failure to accommodate resulted in being fired, not hired, or some other adverse employment action.

Read the full Law360 article here.

 


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Sherman & Howard L.L.C. is an Am Law 200 law firm with nine offices located in Colorado, Arizona, Nevada, Missouri, and New Mexico. Our attorneys provide high-quality legal and business solutions to a broad range of clients, including private, public, and government entities throughout the nation and abroad. We represent clients in the aerospace and government contracting, infrastructure and construction, financial services, natural resources, telecommunications, technology, manufacturing, consumer products and retail, and nonprofit industries. With more than two dozen attorneys focused exclusively on estate and tax planning, and family and matrimonial law, Sherman & Howard’s private client practice is one of the nation’s most respected.