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AFG Industries settles lawsuit filed by Seventh-day Adventist

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AFG Industries settles lawsuit filed by Seventh-day Adventist

Monday, October 10, 2005




Rick Hill Imports


GREENEVILLE - AFG Industries has agreed to pay a $65,000 settlement in a case involving a former employee who claims he was fired for refusing to work on a Saturday.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission filed the lawsuit in September 2004 on behalf of Terry Johnson, a Seventh-day Adventist. The EEOC claimed AFG failed to accommodate Johnson's religious beliefs that he could not work on his Sabbath - a Saturday - and fired him because of that.

AFG officials denied Johnson's claim.

According to a consent decree filed last month in U.S. District Court in Greeneville, AFG has agreed to pay Johnson $65,000 in compensatory damages.

The consent decree does not constitute an admission of guilt by AFG.

Judge Ronnie Greer ordered that AFG be prohibited from discriminating against any employee on the basis of religion and wrote that AFG would have to provide employment-discrimination awareness training to all supervisory and management personnel related to engineering services at AFG's two Kingsport plants.

Chris Correnti, spokesman for AFG, said the company strongly denied any wrongdoing and still does not think it did anything that violated the law.

"(The consent decree) was an appropriate business resolution from our standpoint," Correnti said. "It was a good business step to get it resolved."

According to the lawsuit, Johnson worked at AFG's Kingsport facility as a Tech II and in late 2000 or early 2001 returned to actively practicing his Seventh-day Adventist beliefs.

In mid-April 2001, an AFG supervisor assigned Johnson to a crew that would begin a project on a Saturday.

Four days before the assignment was to begin, Johnson said he informed his supervisor that he was a practicing Seventh-day Adventist and held the belief that he could not work on his Sabbath, which ran from sundown Friday to sundown Saturday.

Johnson claims he asked his supervisor for the Saturday off. However, the supervisor refused to allow Johnson to take the day or to swap assignments with another tech not scheduled to work that day.

The lawsuit states Johnson traveled to Louisiana with the crew but did not go to work on Saturday. When he returned to work in Kingsport on May 9, the supervisor discharged him for failing to work his scheduled hours, the lawsuit states.

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