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Airline sued for religious discrimination

Oct. 1, 2008 at 7:37 PM

MINNEAPOLIS, Oct. 1 (UPI) -- Mesaba Airlines, a U.S. regional carrier, is accused of violating federal law when it fired a Jewish worker who refused to work the Sabbath.

The Minneapolis Star-Tribune reported Wednesday that the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in Minneapolis alleged religious discrimination in a lawsuit filed Tuesday against the airline based in Eagan, Minn.

The lawsuit alleges that the airline fired Laura Vallejos on Oct. 5 for refusing to complete a scheduled shift change that required her to work past sundown on a Friday evening.

Vallejos worked as a customer service agent at Mesaba's facilities at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport.

EEOC regional attorney John Hendrickson said Vallejos "did everything the law requires workers to do when they need a religious accommodation."

The newspaper reported that Vallejos advised her employer during her job interview that she couldn't work the Sabbath, told managers of the impending conflict and proposed accommodations, the EEOC said.

"Unfortunately for Ms. Vallejos, Mesaba couldn't bring itself to comply with its obligation," Hendrickson said.

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