28 day free trial

28 day free trial

28 day free trial

LawMemo - First in Employment Law

Home MyLawMemo About Us   Arbitrators

Celebrating our 23rd year.  Serving employment lawyers,
HR professionals, union representatives, and labor arbitrators.



On the Alert

Alert Archives

Time off to attend religious festival
might not cause "undue hardship"

Suarez v. State of Washington (Washington Ct App 09/20/2022)
Sent to Custom Alerts™ subscribers on 09/21/2022

Suarez sued her former employer, Yakima Valley School (School), alleging the School failed to accommodate her religious beliefs and practices in violation of the Washington Law Against Discrimination. Suarez alleged the School failed to adjust her work schedule to accommodate her practice of observing a weekly Sabbath and other religious holidays, and then terminated her for not reporting to work while exercising her religious beliefs.

The School had denied Suarez's request for paid time off to attend religious festivals, citing its need to call in other employees for mandatory overtime.

The Washington Court of Appeals held there were genuine issues of material fact as to whether the School provided a reasonable accommodation, and whether accommodating Suarez's leave requests would have caused undue hardship.

There was insufficient evidence demonstrating that Suarez's requests for leave caused the School significant difficulty or expense, or that the School took steps to eliminate the conflict.

A state regulation defines "undue hardship" for State employees. In considering whether to grant unpaid leave for religious purposes, a State employer should consider 10 factors:

(1) The number, composition, and structure of staff employed by the employing entity or in the requesting employee’s program.

(2) The financial resources of the employing entity or the requesting employee’s program.

(3) The number of employees requesting leave for each day subject to such a request.

(4) The financial impact on the employing entity or requesting employee’s program resulting from the employee’s absence and whether that impact is greater than a de minimus cost to the employer in relation to the size of the employing entity or requesting employee’s program.

(5) Impact on the employing entity, the requesting employee’s program, workplace safety or public safety.

(6) Type of operations of the employing entity or requesting employee’s program.

(7) Geographic location of the employee or geographic separation of the particular program to the operations of the employing entity.

(8) Nature of the employee’s work.

(9) Deprivation of another employee’s job preference or other benefit guaranteed by a bona fide seniority system or collective bargaining agreement.

(10) Any other impact on the employing entity’s operation or requesting employee’s program due to the employee’s absence.

Applying these factors is a question of fact. To succeed on summary judgment, the employer must present undisputed evidence that accommodating Suarez’s request for unpaid leave caused the employer "significant difficulty or expense."

The court said:

While the School contends that calling in an employee for mandatory overtime is more than a de minimus expense, nothing in the record demonstrates context. There is no evidence demonstrating the actual impact on the School’s finances “in relation to the size of the employing entity or requesting employee’s program.” WAC 82-56-020(4). Nor is there evidence that the cost or inconvenience to the employees was more than de minimus. While the cost of calling in an employee on mandatory overtime might be significant to a smaller employer, the cost may very well be de minimus to a large employer.

Thus, the School was not entitled to prevail on summary judgment, and Suarez can proceed to proving her case.

Newest employment law court decisions.
Want them? Get them.
Employment Law Memo gets them to you first.
Custom Alerts™ get them to your exact criteria.
Get four weeks.   Free.   No hassle.   No risk.

28 day free trial



Home  |  MyLawMemo  |  Custom Alerts  |  Newest Cases  |  Key Word Search  
No-obligation trial  |  Arbitrators  |  Law Firms  |  Sample Memos 


Get your 28 day trial now 

Web www.LawMemo.com 
This form will search the LawMemo web site. 
It does not include Key Word Search.