Dunkin' Donuts to face US federal court accused of religious discrimination

(Photo: REUTERS / Mario Anzuoni)The signage is pictured at a newly opened Dunkin' Donuts store in Santa Monica, California September 2, 2014. The store is the first one from the chain to open in the Southern California area.

A local franchise of Dunkin' Donuts bakery is to face a U.S. federal court after not hiring a man who has refused to work on a Saturday because of his religious beliefs.

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) said in a September 11 statement that Citi Brands, LLC, a franchisee of Dunkin' Donuts, violated federal law by refusing to hire Darrell Littrell, a Seventh-Day Adventist.

Littrell of Asheville, North Carolina applied for a job as a donut maker at the Citi Brands manufacturing plant in December 2012.

In January 2013 he was offered the job and was told to report to work the next day, a Friday, at 3 p.m., the suit said.

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Littrell said he is unable report on Friday afternoons since Adventists observe a Sabbath and cannot work from sunset Friday until sunset Saturday. The plant manager then revoked the job offer.

According to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, employers are prohibited from refusing to hire people based on religion.

It also requires employers to make an effort to sincerely accommodate held religious beliefs.

The employment commission filed the complaint in a federal court after attempting to reach a voluntary settlement with the company.

The lawsuit seeks back pay and other damages like compensatory and punitive damages, as well as ther non-monetary relief for Littrell.

"Employers should be mindful that it is against the law to discriminate against an applicant or an employee based on his religion, including the observance of the Sabbath," said Lynette A. Barnes, regional attorney for the EEOC's Charlotte District.

The EOOC is responsible for enforcing federal laws that make it illegal to discriminate against a job applicant or an employee due to a person's race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, disability or genetic information.

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