A woman, Marie Jean Pierre, 60, has been awarded $21 million in damages after she was forced to work on Sundays as a dishwasher at a Miami hotel.
Pierre, who started work at the hotel in April 2006, claimed she told her employer that she would be unable to work on Sundays because she was a missionary for the Soldiers of Christ Church.
“I love God. No work on Sunday, because Sunday I honor God,” said the Haitian immigrant.
For most of the time that she was working at the hotel, her religious beliefs were respected and she was allowed to have Sundays off. However, that changed in October 2015, after a kitchen manager insisted on scheduling her to work on Sundays.
Pierre had her pastor write a letter explaining it would be a violation of her religious beliefs to do secular work on the Sabbath — but the manager allegedly threw it away, according to a copy of a complaint Pierre would later file against the hotel chain.
The arrangement prompted Pierre to ask her co-workers to switch shifts with her if she wanted to take Sundays off.
This lasted until March 2016, when Pierre’s employment “was terminated for alleged misconduct, negligence, and ‘unexcused absences,’” the complaint stated.
In turn, Pierre filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, saying the hotel had discriminated against her religious beliefs.
Ultimately, she filed a lawsuit against Park Hotels and Resorts Inc. of Tysons, Va. (formerly known as Hilton Worldwide, which managed the Conrad), alleging the hotel had violated the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which bans employment discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex or national origin.
Pierre’s attorney, Marc Brumer, said the hotel had an obligation to “reasonably accommodate” their employees’ religious beliefs — and argued they could have easily done so for Pierre. Instead, he said, they charged her with absenteeism and fired her.