Department of Justice SealDepartment of Justice
Monday, September 29, 2008
(202) 514-2007
TDD (202) 514-1888

Justice Department Files Religious Discrimination Lawsuit Against Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority

WASHINGTON The Department of Justice announced today the filing of a lawsuit against the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA), alleging that WMATA is engaged in a pattern or practice of religious discrimination, in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Title VII prohibits employment discrimination on the basis of race, color, sex, national origin and religion.

The complaint alleges that WMATA failed to reasonably accommodate and provide equal employment opportunities to employees and prospective employees whose religious practices conflict with WMATA’s uniform policy. WMATA’s practice is to deny all requests for religious accommodations to its uniform policy, regardless of whether reasonable accommodations are available that would resolve the conflict without imposing an undue hardship on WMATA.

The complaint also alleges that WMATA discriminated against Gloria Jones, an applicant for a bus operator position with WMATA and a member of the Apostolic Pentecostal faith, by failing to accommodate Ms. Jones’ religious practices and by refusing to hire her when her religious practices prevented her from complying with a portion of WMATA’s uniform policy for bus operators.

"Employees should not have to sacrifice their religious practices for their livelihoods," said Grace Chung Becker, Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division. "While public employers have the authority to require uniforms, they cannot refuse to accommodate an employee’s religious practice when reasonable accommodation is possible."

The complaint, filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, seeks an order requiring WMATA to reasonably accommodate and provide equal employment opportunities for persons whose religious practices require an accommodation to the uniform policy. The suit also seeks monetary damages and other relief for victims of religious discrimination by WMATA.

The Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice is committed to the vigorous enforcement of Title VII. This is the ninth Title VII suit the Civil Rights Division has filed so far this year. Additional information about the Civil Rights Division and Title VII is available on its Web site at