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Hospital sued for withdrawing nurse's job offer after religious request

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A Twin Cities health care provider has been accused of violating federal law by withdrawing a job offer to an applicant after she requested a religious accommodation.

Robbinsdale-based North Memorial Health Care is being sued by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) because of its alleged treatment of Emily Sure-Ondara.

According to the EEOC, Sure-Ondara identifies as a Seventh-Day Adventist and upon being offered a position as a registered nurse with North Memorial, she requested a schedule to accommodate her religious practices.

After North Memorial said it would not grant said accommodation, Sure-Ondara said she would be willing to work without it – but North Memorial withdrew the job offer anyway.

The EEOC says that this violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which protects employees and job applicants from retaliation when they engage in activities protected under the law, such as requesting religious accommodation.

Accommodation for religious practices could mean several things, the EEOC's website says, such as allowing an employee to adhere to a religion's dress or grooming code, exemptions to attend religious services, or exemptions from working certain days (such as the Sabbath).

"Federal law protects the right of job applicants or employees to request a religious accommodation without fear that the request will lead to retaliation," John Hendrickson, regional attorney for EEOC's Chicago District, said.

"While Title VII allows employers to reject an accommodation request if certain circumstances are met, it is unlawful for an employer to take action against the employee based on such a request."

North Memorial has so far not commented on the suit, according to MPR.

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