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PROTOS v. VOLKSWAGEN OF AMERICA

August 27, 1985

ANGELINE S. PROTOS, Plaintiff,
v.
VOLKSWAGEN OF AMERICA, INC., Defendant



The opinion of the court was delivered by: ZIEGLER

 ZIEGLER, District Judge

 I. Findings of Fact

 (1) Plaintiff, Angeline S. Protos, filed a civil action for money damages and injunctive relief against defendant, Volkswagen of America, Inc., based on Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq.

 (2) Plaintiff contends that she was disciplined, suspended and ultimately terminated by defendant due to her religious beliefs in violation of the 1972 amendment to Title VII, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e(j).

 (3) Jurisdiction is based on 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-5(f)(3) and 28 U.S.C. § 1343(a).

 (4) Plaintiff has satisfied all administrative prerequisites to the filing of this action, including the filing of written charges with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission; an investigation by the agency; a finding of probable cause to believe that defendant violated Title VII by failing to accommodate plaintiff's religious beliefs; notice of the right to sue; and a timely complaint.

 (5) Angeline Protos was hired by Volkswagen as an assembler at the New Stanton assembly plant on May 9, 1979.

 (6) At all relevant times, plaintiff was a member of the Worldwide Church of God. One of the tenets of the church provides that a member shall not work on the Sabbath which extends from sunset on Friday to sunset on Saturday.

 (7) The evidence preponderates that plaintiff's religious beliefs were sincerely held and consistent with the teachings of the Worldwide Church of God. Plaintiff documented her religious beliefs by providing letters to defendant from her minister on two occasions.

 (8) The evidence preponderates that plaintiff was a competent, efficient, loyal and highly motivated employee of defendant until she was discharged on March 17, 1980.

 (9) Plaintiff worked on the assembly line in trim 15, and performed the task of attaching four color coded wires of varying lengths to three connectors and a ground screw in the tail light assemblies of Rabbit automobiles. The evidence preponderates that the job could be learned in 15 minutes and performed in 30 seconds. We find that plaintiff has established by a preponderance of the evidence that the assignment was the least difficult and strenuous in trim 15.

 (10) From the date of her employment, until August of 1979, plaintiff's regular work shift was from 6:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., Monday to Friday, and no conflict arose with her religious beliefs or observances. Plaintiff performed her work in a competent manner from Monday to Friday of each work week.

 (11) In September, 1979, Volkswagen began to schedule mandatory overtime on Saturday which would require plaintiff to work in violation of her Sabbatarian beliefs. Plaintiff informed defendant that she would be unable to work on Saturdays due to the Sabbath.

 (13) On November 9, 1979, defendant advised plaintiff that she no longer would be excused from work on Saturdays. Plaintiff informed defendant that she would be unable to work on Saturday due to her religious beliefs and the teachings of the Worldwide Church of God.

 (14) On December 10, 1979, defendant initiated disciplinary proceedings against plaintiff, pursuant to step 1 of the collective bargaining agreement, for failing to work on Saturday, December 8, 1979.

 (15) On February 4, 1980, plaintiff was disciplined for failing to work on Saturday, February 2, 1980, and a one-week disciplinary layoff was imposed.

 (16) On February 25, 1980, plaintiff was disciplined for failing to work on Saturday, February 23, 1980, and a two-week disciplinary layoff was imposed.

 (17) On March 17, 1980, plaintiff was discharged for failing to work on Saturday, March 15, 1980.

 (18) Plaintiff gave reasonable notice to Volkswagen prior to each absence, and plaintiff was willing to work on Sunday or make any adjustment in her work schedule to avoid the directive that she work on Saturday.

 (19) The evidence preponderates that the absence of plaintiff from work on Saturday, and specifically on December 8, 1979, February 2 and 23, and March 1, 1980, caused no undue hardship to Volkswagen. The credible evidence establishes that defendant had available, at the same rate of pay, qualified employees who were able and did perform the assignment ...


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