7th Circuit revives workplace religious discrimination suit

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A Nigerian employee who asked his employer for time off work to attend his father’s burial rights and was fired when he returned is entitled to a day in court, the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals held Wednesday.

In Sikiru Adeyeye v. Heartland Sweeteners, LLC, 12-3820, Adeyeye “explained to Heartland that his participation in the funeral ceremonies was 'compulsory' and that if he failed to lead the burial rites, he and his family members would suffer at least spiritual death,” Judge David Hamilton wrote. “Heartland denied Adeyeye’s request, but he traveled to Nigeria for the ceremonies anyway. He was fired when he returned and reported to work.”

Judge William T. Lawrence of the U.S. District Court, Southern District of Indiana granted summary judgment in favor of Heartland, holding that Adeyeye’s written letters asking for time off did not present evidence sufficient for a reasonable jury to find he provided notice of the religious nature of his request for unpaid leave.

“We disagree,” Hamilton wrote for the court. “Whether or not Adeyeye’s letters might have justified holding as a matter of law that they provided sufficient notice of the religious nature of his request (a question we do not decide), they certainly are sufficient to present a genuine issue of material fact regarding whether Heartland had notice of the religious nature of the request. We also find that genuine issues of material fact prevent us from affirming summary judgment on any of the other grounds argued by Heartland.”

Heartland also argued that Adeyeye’s Title VII complaint lacked evidence that religious observance or practice was the cause of his termination, presented an undue hardship, or that his beliefs were sincerely held.

“We reverse the district court’s judgment and remand for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.”



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  1. Freedom From Religion Foundation: If you really want to be free from religion, don't go to the Christmas Play or the Christmas Pageant or the Christmas Parade. Anything with "Christ" or Saint...fill in the blank...would be off limits to you. Then leave the rest of us ALONE!

  2. So the prosecutor made an error and the defendants get a full remedy. Just one short paragraph to undo the harm of the erroneous prosecution. Wow. Just wow.

  3. Wake up!!!! Lawyers are useless!! it makes no difference in any way to speak about what is important!! Just dont tell your plans to the "SELFRIGHTEOUS ARROGANT JERKS!! WHO THINK THEY ARE BETTER THAN ANOTHER MAN/WOMAN!!!!!!

  4. Looks like you dont understand Democracy, Civilized Society does not cut a thiefs hands off, becouse now he cant steal or write or feed himself or learn !!! You deserve to be over punished, Many men are mistreated hurt in many ways before a breaking point happens! grow up !!!

  5. It was all that kept us from tyranny. So sad that so few among the elite cared enough to guard the sacred trust. Nobody has a more sacred obligation to obey the law than those who make the law. Sophocles No man is above the law and no man is below it; nor do we ask any man's permission when we ask him to obey it. Obedience to the law is demanded as a right; not asked as a favor. Theodore Roosevelt That was the ideal ... here is the Hoosier reality: The King can do no wrong. Legal maxim From the Latin 'Rex non potest peccare'. When the President does it, that means that it is not illegal. Richard Nixon