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Discrimination Lawsuit Hits Hazelwood Convergys Facility

The applicant's religion prevented him from working Saturday, lawsuit claims the company refused to hire him because of this.

Convergys Corp. faces a federal discrimination suit for refusing to hire somebody who couldn't work Saturdays due to his religion, and it involves the Hazelwood area facility located in Village Square.

The U.S.  Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is accusing the Cincinnati-based company of violating federal law by refusing to hire Shannon Fantroy when he told them he could not work on Saturdays because of his Hebrew Israelite religion. His religion requires him to observe the Sabbath from sunup until sundown on Saturday and to not work during that period.

“Giving an employee an alternative schedule in such a large call center should not be impossible,” said Barbara A. Seely, regional attorney for the EEOC's St. Louis District Office. “Refusing to hire a person in this situation without even discussing a possible accommodation for his religion is unlawful discrimination.”

A spokeswoman for Convergys said the company doesn’t comment on matters of pending litigation.

The commission said Fantroy had answered an online advertisement for a customer service position at Hazelwood Convergys' call center, which employs about 560 people. The ad stated that a successful candidate should be able to work a flexible work schedule and/or overtime as required, the EEOC said.

According to an EOC press release, a Convergys recruiter told Fantroy he would have to work weekends during an interview. Fantroy told the recruiter that he was unable to work on Saturdays due to his religious beliefs. The release said the recruiter then told Fantroy that the interview was over unless he could work Saturdays.

The commission said it filed its lawsuit in U.S. District Court in St. Louis, but only after it failed to reach a pre-litigation settlement. The suit accuses Convergys of violating Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits religious discrimination and requires employers to make reasonable accommodations to employees' and applicants' sincerely held religious beliefs as long as this does not pose an undue hardship.

Convergys provides outsourced billing and customer care services, and the commission seeks front pay, back pay, compensatory and punitive damages for Fantroy. It also wants injunctive relief, including training for all Convergys recruiters on religious accommodations.

The EEOC is responsible for enforcing federal laws against employment discrimination. Further information is available at www.eeoc.gov.

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