A.G. Schneiderman Announces Settlement With Consulting Firm For Failing To Accommodate Religious Observance

Milrose Consultants Failed To Accommodate Prospective Employee’s Sabbath Observance

Agreement Requires Changes To Firm’s Religious Policies To Ensure Employees’ Rights Are Safeguarded

Schneiderman: My Office Is Committed To Ensuring That The Religious Rights Of All New Yorkers Are Protected

NEW YORK – Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman today announced a settlement with Milrose Consultants, an architectural and engineering consulting firm with offices in three states, including two in New York State, for failing to reasonably accommodate the religious observance requirements of a prospective employee. After an investigation into Milrose’s practices, the Attorney General determined that the company maintained no religious accommodations policy. Today’s settlement will ensure that current and future employees’ requests for religious accommodations are handled in accordance with the New York State Human Rights Law, Title VII and the New York City Human Rights Law.

“A company depriving current or future employees of their religious rights is intolerable -- no one’s employment should be endangered because he or she observes the Sabbath,” said Attorney General Schneiderman. “The law ensures that employees can balance the requirements of their faith with the responsibilities of their work. My office will continue to both protect the religious freedom of employees, and educate employers about their obligations to respect the faiths of their workers.”

In 2011, the Attorney General launched an investigation into Milrose after receiving a complaint charging that the company discriminated against a new hire. Specifically, the complaint stated that Milrose rescinded its employment offer after discovering that the employee observed a Saturday Sabbath and would occasionally require an accommodation to leave work early in order to return home before sundown on Friday.

The investigation revealed that Milrose maintains no religious accommodations policy, no formal policy or procedure for employees to request religious accommodations or for supervisors or managers to evaluate such requests, and no directives or training for managers and supervisors to ensure that requests for religious accommodations are properly reviewed and assessed.

The settlement requires Milrose Consultants to create new policies concerning religious accommodations, inform employees of their right to request a religious accommodation, and train managers to ensure that these requests are evaluated in accordance with the law.

In November 2011, Attorney General Schneiderman launched a Religious Rights Initiative, which is dedicated to combating religious discrimination, investigating religious freedom violations and ensuring that anti-discrimination laws are aggressively enforced. The Religious Rights Initiative targets faith-based discrimination and violations of religious rights through public education, outreach and law enforcement, including litigation.

Michael S. Miller, Executive Vice President and CEO of the Jewish Community Relations Council of New York said, “People of faith shouldn’t be forced to choose between observing the requirements of their faith and their job, despite the laws that protect religious practice at work. We applaud Attorney General Schneiderman’s efforts to protect the religious rights of all New Yorkers in the workplace.”

The case is being handled by Assistant Attorney General Kayla Gassmann and Volunteer Assistant Attorney General Jacob Segall, under the supervision of Civil Rights Bureau Chief Kristen Clarke, Chief Counsel for Civil Rights Spencer Freedman, and Executive Deputy Attorney General for Social Justice Janet Sabel, with the assistance of Alyson Spindell, Director of Community Affairs and Engagement for Religious Rights.

The Civil Rights Bureau is committed to combating discrimination and protecting the rights of all New Yorkers. To file a complaint with the Bureau, contact 212-416-8250 or civil.rights@ag.ny.gov

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