The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has agreed to a settlement with Voss Lighting, an Oklahoma company that actively discriminated against non-Christians in their hiring. The facts of this case are about as blatant a violation as one can imagine:
According to the EEOC’s suit, filed in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Oklahoma (Civil Case No. 4:12-cv-00330-JED-FHM), Voss Lighting advertised a vacancy for an “operations supervisor” position at its Tulsa location through the website of a Tulsa-area church attended by the incumbent supervisor. Edward Wolfe, who had prior operations management experience, learned about the vacancy and applied for the position although he did not himself attend the church. Voss’s incumbent supervisor met with Wolfe and casually gathered personal information about his religious beliefs and practices. Notwithstanding the fact that Wolfe provided his resume and other job-related information, the supervisor forwarded only Wolfe’s personal religious information to the branch manager and recommended that he be hired.
When the branch manager formally interviewed Wolfe, the majority of the job interview concerned Wolfe’s religious activities and beliefs, the EEOC said. For instance, Wolfe was asked to identify every church he has attended over the past several years; where and when he was “saved” and the circumstances that led up to it; and whether he “would have a problem” coming into work early to attend Bible study before clocking in. According to Wolfe, the branch manager expressed dissatisfaction with his truthful responses to the religious questioning.
At the time Wolfe was interviewed, Voss had no viable candidates for the position being filled. Despite being considered qualified for the position, Wolfe was denied employment on the basis of his religious beliefs, the EEOC charged. Voss continued to seek applicants and eventually hired an individual whose religious ideology matched that of the company and its leadership.
The company agreed to pay $82,500 in damages and to make changes to make sure it doesn’t happen again (though this is the kind of thing it’s easy to keep doing while pretending not to).