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Federal court upholds firing of Christian bus driver who would not work on Sunday

Catholic World News - August 14, 2012

A federal appellate court has upheld New Jersey Transit’s decision to fire Roger Fouche, a born-again Christian bus driver who refused to work on Sundays.

“To accommodate his request, New Jersey Transit, which operates on a seven-day per week schedule, would have been required to shift some Sunday driving to other drivers,” the Third Circuit Court of Appeals ruled. “This accommodation would have placed an undue hardship on New Jersey Transit as Fouche’s election not to drive on certain Sundays would have resulted in a breach of the seniority provision of the union’s collective bargaining agreement, thus raising a legal issue.”

“Of course, we are respectful of the religious beliefs of an individual who seeks to adjust his work schedule to conform with those beliefs,” the court continued. “Moreover, we do not question Fouche’s sincerity in explaining his understanding of how his religious obligations affected his activities.”

“Nevertheless, we think that Fouche’s good faith in taking a full-time position with New Jersey Transit is questionable because when he took that position he surely knew or should have known from his prior part-time employment with New Jersey Transit that its drivers ordinarily are sometimes assigned Sunday driving duties,” the court added.

According to the ruling, “Sabbath-observant job applicants are not acting in good faith if you apply, even though you have a statutory right,” commented Marc Stern, associate general counsel for legal advocacy at the American Jewish Committee. “That is quite astounding. It is very dangerous.”

“In theory, it is illegal to ask straight out, ‘Are you a Sabbath observer?’” Stern added. “But you can ask, ‘Are you available seven days a week, 24 hours a day?’”

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Show 2 Comments? (Hidden)Hide Comments
  • Posted by: mateskub8508 - Aug. 14, 2012 11:47 PM ET USA

    It's a problem of demand for travel as a general question. And that demand can't be avoided in a society powered by profit, so you'd have to just "force shut down" like they do in Me'a She'arim, but the non datim will not be happy about that for sure; thus "religious neighborhoods" appear. But specifically, a Christian should choose the kind of job that allows him the Niedziela and not choose whatever job and then try to force the employer to not take what he believes he is paying for.

  • Posted by: rpp - Aug. 14, 2012 11:38 AM ET USA

    So now we have a religious test for bus drivers. I guess it is doctors and nurses next.

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