Court Explains Dismissal of Religious Discrimination / Failure to Accommodate Claim

In Khaleel v. Heightened Security SVC Inc., 15-cv-1387, 2018 WL 1353266 (SDNY March 15, 2018), the court granted summary for defendant on plaintiff’s various claims, including for hostile work environment/sexual harassment, religious discrimination (failure to accommodate), and retaliation.

In this blog post, I’ll discuss the court’s evaluation of plaintiff’s religious discrimination/failure to accommodate claim.

The law, as summarized by the court:

To state a prima facie case of religious discrimination, Plaintiff must show that (1) [he] held a bona fide religious belief conflicting with an employment requirement; (2) [he] informed [his] employer[ ] of this belief; and (3) [he was] disciplined for failure to comply with the conflicting employment requirement. … If the plaintiff establishes a prima facie case, the burden shifts to the defendant to show it “could not accommodate the employees’ religious beliefs without undue hardship.

Applying the law, the court held:

Plaintiff alleges that Defendant discriminated against him on the basis of his religion, Islam, by denying him an accommodation of allowing him to pray during breaks. However, Plaintiff does not allege that he informed his employer of this conflict. Further, he does not allege that he was disciplined for failing to comply with the conflicting employment requirement. Accordingly, he does not state a prima facie case.

Assuming arguendo that Plaintiff had satisfied his prima facie burden, Defendant has adduced evidence that it did, in fact, accommodate Plaintiff’s religious beliefs. For instance, Defendant accommodated Plaintiff’s request to have Fridays off for religious reasons.

Although defendant did not respond to plaintiff’s allegation that the defendant denied him the ability to pray during breaks, it concluded that “[p]laintiff ultimately fails to satisfy his burden because he has produced no evidence in support of his conclusory claims.”