Two Adventists Suing Kellogg Co. For Religious Discrimination

Two members of the Seventh-day Adventist Church who are suing Kellogg Co. for religious discrimination have won the right to continue their lawsuit.

Richard Tabura and Guadalupe Diaz worked for a Kellogg Co. plant in Utah.  A change in work schedule for the plant in 2011 meant that all employees had to work roughly two Saturdays a month.  Because Seventh-day Adventists observe the Sabbath from sunset on Fridays to sunset on Saturdays, it was a conflict for Tabura and Diaz.  Paid time off was not enough to cover their absences and they could not always find coworkers to take their shifts.

Kellogg Co. issues points to employees for late clock-ins, early departures and unannounced absences. Tabura and Diaz both accumulated enough points by 2012 that it resulted in the two getting fired.  The two decided to sue Kellogg Co. for violating Title VII of the Civil Rights Act.

In a case before the United States District Court for the District of Utah, Kellogg Co. claimed to have satisfied its duty to accommodate the religious requirements of the two employees and that the termination was unrelated to religious discrimination.

Tabura and Diaz initially lost when they brought the case before the U.S. District Court in July 2016. The court ruled that Kellogg Co. made reasonable accommodations and anything further would have resulted in undue hardship for the company.  But the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit in Denver reversed that decision on Wednesday.

The conclusion of the appellate court was that, while Kellogg should not have been granted the win, there was insufficient evidence to rule in favor of Tabura and Diaz, which is why the case is being returned to the district court for further deliberation.

One approach would be that the two former employees just move on, trusting God to find them a better job.  We will see what happens.

John Harvey Kellogg and W.K. Kellogg were Seventh-day Adventists.  W.K. Kellogg, of course, went on to found Kellogg Co.