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DOJ settles Religious discrimination - School failed to provide religious accommodation.

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Justice Department Settles Religious Discrimination Lawsuit Against Berkeley School District in Illinois

WASHINGTON — The Department of Justice announced today that it has entered into a consent decree with the Board of Education of Berkeley School District 87 in Berkeley, Ill. that, if approved by the court, will resolve a religious accommodations lawsuit filed in December 2010.   In its lawsuit, the United States alleged that the school district violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 by failing to reasonably accommodate the religious practices of Safoorah Khan, a Muslim teacher at McArthur Middle

 

 

The lawsuit was based on a charge of discrimination filed by Ms. Khan with the Chicago District Office of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).   After investigating Ms. Khan’s charge, finding reasonable cause to believe that Berkeley School District had discriminated against Ms. Khan, and unsuccessfully attempting to conciliate the matter, the EEOC referred the charge to the Department of Justice.  

  Under the terms of the consent decree, Berkeley School District will pay $75,000 to Ms. Khan for lost back pay, compensatory damages and attorneys’ fees.   Berkeley School District also is required to develop and distribute a religious accommodation policy consistent with Title VII’s requirement to reasonably accommodate the religious beliefs, practices and/or observances of all employees and prospective employees.   In addition, Berkeley School District is required to provide mandatory training on religious accommodation to all board of education members, supervisors, managers, administrators and human resources officials who participate in decisions on religious accommodation requests made by its employees and prospective employees.  

This is the first lawsuit brought by the Department of Justice as a result of a pilot project designed to ensure vigorous enforcement of Title VII against state and local governmental employers by enhancing cooperation between the EEOC and the Civil Rights Division.

“As the favorable resolution of this case demonstrates, closer collaboration between the EEOC and the Department of Justice will strengthen the enforcement of this nation’s civil rights laws,” said Jacqueline A. Berrien, Chair of the EEOC.   “Our partnership is critical to ensuring that workplaces are free of bias.”  

Title VII prohibits discrimination in employment on the basis of gender, race, color, national origin or religion, and prohibits retaliation against an employee who opposes an unlawful employment practice, or because the employee has made a charge or participated in an investigation, proceeding or hearing under the Act.   More information about Title VII and other federal employment laws is available on the Department of Justice website at www.usdoj.gov/crt/emp/index.html .

The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination.  Further information about the EEOC is available on its website at www.eeoc.gov.

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