Voss Lighting Settles EEOC Discrimination Suit on Religion ; the Company Allegedly Denied Employment Based on the Religious Beliefs of an Applicant

By Harper, David | Tulsa World (Tulsa, OK), March 2, 2013 | Go to article overview

Voss Lighting Settles EEOC Discrimination Suit on Religion ; the Company Allegedly Denied Employment Based on the Religious Beliefs of an Applicant


Harper, David, Tulsa World (Tulsa, OK)


A Nebraska company will pay $82,500 and comply with various conditions to settle a religious discrimination lawsuit filed in Tulsa by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the agency announced Tuesday.

The commission had alleged in a civil case filed in June that Voss Lighting, a supplier of replacement lighting products, violated federal law by refusing to hire a qualified applicant at its Tulsa location because of his religious beliefs.

Edward Wolfe, 47, of Tulsa applied for an operations supervisor position at Voss Lighting's Tulsa store in early 2011, according to the EEOC. The agency claims in the lawsuit that, during the application process, two local managers made numerous inquiries, "both subtle and overt," about Wolfe's religious activities and beliefs.

Wolfe allegedly 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 to that event, and whether he "would have a problem" coming into work early to attend Bible study before clocking in for the day.

The lawsuit recounts an alleged conversation in which one of the managers purportedly told Wolfe that the majority of Voss' employees were Southern Baptist, "but that it wasn't required that you go to a Southern Baptist Church. As long as you were a 'born-again' Christian, it didn't matter what church you attended."

The EEOC claims that the same manager expressed "overt agitation and disapproval" at Wolfe's responses to the religious line of questioning and that Wolfe was ultimately denied employment on the basis of his religious beliefs.

In addition to the $82,500 payment to Wolfe, the consent decree settling the suit also requires Voss Lighting to undertake company- wide actions designed to prevent future religious discrimination, including the posting of an EEOC notice specifically prohibiting employment discrimination on the basis of religion at its various locations spanning 12 states, re-dissemination of anti- discrimination policies; periodic reporting to the EEOC of specified hiring information; religion-neutral job advertising; and the training of management on religious discrimination. …

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