Is it legal to force me to step down to a lower position or threaten me with termination if I do not meet newly enforced availability requirements?

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Is it legal to force me to step down to a lower position or threaten me with termination if I do not meet newly enforced availability requirements?

I have been employed by a company for about 2 years. I was hired on with the knowledge that I do not work on Sundays due to religious obligations and was ensured this would not be a problem. I got promoted twice and ended up in a supervisor’s position where I worked for about 8 months. The company has now started enforcing an old requirement which would make me have to become available on Sundays. If I do not become available I will have to give up my supervisor’s position and step down or face termination. I have been told that the company feels that I do not need a full day off on Sundays.

Asked on August 12, 2011 Ohio

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

You should speak with an employment law attorney; this is a tricky one, in that there is no single right answer (it depends on the circumstances) with significant consequences. A company may not discriminate against someone on the basis of their religion; however, non-discrimiantion means only making "reasonable accomodations." A reasonable accomodation is one that is neither too expensive or too disruptive to the business. IF it is the case that a supervisor legitimately needs to be available on Sundays, then it may be that the reasonable accomodation would be to retain you in a different position--even a lower-paid one--where Sunday availablity is not critical. On the other hand, if a supervisor does not need to be available on Sunday, this may be religous discrimination. You need to discuss the situation in depth, including all the requirements of the job, with an attorney to see what your rights and recourse are. Good luck.


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