The opinion of the court was delivered by: McDADE, District Judge.
On May 8, 1992, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, [EEOC],
filed this action on behalf of Plaintiff,*fn1 Richard Boyer, pursuant to
Section 706(f)(1) and (3) of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964,
as amended, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e, et seq., Title VII. The EEOC alleges
that Defendant, IBP, Inc., discriminated against Plaintiff on the basis
of his religious beliefs and practices as a Seventh Day Adventist, in
violation of Sections 701(j) and 703(a) of Title VII, 42
U.S.C. § 2000e(j) and § 2000e-2(a)(1), by discharging him after
he refused on religious grounds to work on Saturdays, as scheduled, and
to find a replacement for his shift. Jurisdiction and venue are proper.
28 U.S.C. § 451, 1331, 1337, 1343 and 1345.
Before the Court is IBP's Motion for Summary Judgment, alleging: (1)
that Plaintiff cannot make out a prima facie case of religious
discrimination under Title VII because Plaintiff's beliefs were not
sincere, and (2) that even if Plaintiff has established a prima facie
case, IBP fulfilled its statutory duty to accommodate Plaintiff's
religious beliefs and practices by offering to allow Plaintiff to trade
shifts with another employee. After careful review, the Court finds that
the Motion For Summary Judgment must be DENIED because genuine issues of
material fact exist with respect to both theories.
Federal Rule 56(c) Summary Judgment is appropriate when there remains
no genuine issue of material fact upon which a reasonable jury could find
in favor of the nonmoving party, and the moving party is entitled to
judgment as a matter of law. Although the moving party on a motion for
summary judgment is responsible for demonstrating to the Court why there
is no genuine issue of material fact, the non-moving party must go beyond
the face of the pleadings, affidavits, depositions, answers to
interrogatories, and admissions on file, to show that a rational jury
could return a verdict in this party's favor. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett,
477 U.S. 317, 322-27, 106 S.Ct. 2548, 2552-55, 91 L.Ed.2d 265 (1986);
Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 254-55, 106 S.Ct. 2505,
2513-14, 91 L.Ed.2d 202 (1986); Matsushita Elec. Industrial Co. v. Zenith
Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586-87, 106 S.Ct. 1348, 1355-56, 89 L.Ed.2d
538 (1986). The Court must view all inferences to be drawn from the facts
in the light most favorable to the opposing party. Anderson, 477 U.S. at
247-48, 106 S.Ct. at 2510. Beraha v. Baxter Health Corp., 956 F.2d 1436,
1440 (7th Cir. 1992). Disputed facts are material when they might affect
the outcome of the suit. First Ind. Bank v. Baker, 957 F.2d 506, 507-08
(7th Cir. 1992). A metaphysical doubt will not suffice. Matsushita, 475
U.S. at 586, 106 S.Ct. at 1356.
On January 13, 1986, IBP hired Plaintiff, Richard Boyer, as a "clod
trimmer" for its Joslin, Illinois, beef processing plant. Several months
later, IBP promoted Plaintiff to the position of "Chuck Boner"*fn2 on
the "A" Shift, which worked from 6:00 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. The "B" Shift
worked from 3:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m.*fn3 Plaintiff worked on scheduled
Saturdays for IBP from the date of his hire until Plaintiff became a
Seventh Day Adventist in December 1988.*fn4 After his conversion in
December 1988, Plaintiff notified the Personnel Manager, Tom Udell, that
he could no longer work on Saturdays for religious reasons. A tenet of
the Seventh Day Adventist religion is that members may not work on the
Sabbath, observed from sunset Friday to sunset Saturday. Plaintiffs
Pastor also sent a letter to IBP confirming that Plaintiff's religious
belief was a practice of the Seventh Day Adventist Church.
Plaintiffs observance of the Sabbath did not conflict with his work
schedule prior to
April 8, 1989, because IBP's corporate office had not scheduled Saturday
work from December 1988 to April 8, 1989. However, when IBP's corporate
office notified the Joslin Plant to schedule Saturday work for April 8,
1989, Tom Udell and Plaintiff's Supervisor, Dennis Tague, apparently
foreseeing a conflict, met with Plaintiff to discuss ways to accommodate
Plaintiff's religious belief. IBP offered to accommodate Plaintiff by
allowing him to trade shifts with a co-worker On the "B" shift.*fn5
Tague also offered to accompany Plaintiff to the production floor while
Plaintiff sought a replacement. Plaintiff then informed Udell and Tague
that he considered it a sin to ask someone to work for him on the
Sabbath, although Plaintiff conceded that he would allow IBP to arrange a
shift swap for him.
Plaintiff failed to report for work on Saturday, April 8, 1989, and
received an unexcused absence because a replacement was not found.
Plaintiff also received a written warning that unexcused absences would,
result in discipline. After his second unexcused absence, Plaintiff was
suspended for one day. Plaintiff was discharged after his third unexcused
absence,*fn6 pursuant to company policy.*fn7 Immediately after his
discharge, Plaintiff was awarded unemployment compensation.*fn8
Plaintiff then held a series of jobs, including one for which he was
terminated after his refusal to work on Saturdays. Sometime in July or
August of 1990, however, Plaintiff began attending classes at a truck
driving school on Friday evenings; and in 1991, Plaintiff agreed to drive
a truck for his employer on a Saturday.*fn9 When asked why he broke the
Sabbath, Plaintiff replied that he had "lost faith" in 1990.
IBP contends that summary judgment must be granted in its favor because
the Plaintiff cannot demonstrate the requisite sincerity of his religious
beliefs, as a matter of law. Alternatively, IBP contends that even if
Plaintiff has established a prima facie case of religious
discrimination, IBP has fulfilled its statutory obligation of reasonable
accommodation, as a matter of law.
Analysis of a religious discrimination case begins with the question of
whether the employee has established a prima facie case of religious
discrimination. A prima facie case is established when an employee shows
that he or she: (1) holds a sincere religious belief that conflicts with
an employment requirement; (2) has informed the employer about the
conflict; and (3) was discharged or disciplined for failing to comply
with the conflicting employment requirement. Ansonia Bd. of Educ. v.
Philbrook, 479 U.S. 60, 65-66, 107 S.Ct. 367, 372, 93 L.Ed.2d 305
(1986); Turpen v. Missouri-Kansas-Texas R.R. Co:, 736 F.2d 1022, 1026
(5th Cir. 1984).
IBP's challenge to the sincerity of Plaintiff's belief can be disposed
of quickly. The Supreme Court defines a religious belief's "not merely a
matter of personal preference, but one of deep religious conviction,
shared by an organized group, and intimately related to daily living."
Wisconsin v. Yoder, 406 U.S. 205, 215-216, 92 S.Ct. 1526, 1533, 32
L.Ed.2d 15 (1972). IBP claims that although society recognizes the
Seventh Day Adventist Church as an organized religious group, Plaintiff
cannot prove that his belief in ...