A federal appeals court has ruled that North Memorial Health Hospital in Robbinsdale was within its rights to rescind a job offer to a prospective new-hire nurse who sought to be off work during her Christian faith’s Sabbath.
The split decision filed Tuesday by the three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals’ Eighth Circuit upholds an earlier U.S. District Court finding in July 2017 against a discrimination lawsuit filed in 2015 on behalf of Emily Sure-Ondara, a Seventh-Day Adventist, by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).
“Rescinding the job offer was not an adverse employment action,” Judge James Loken wrote on behalf of himself and fellow Judge Ralph Erickson. “North Memorial presented evidence that it is not feasible to hire [someone who] will not work the collectively bargained schedule.”
In his dissenting opinion, Judge Steven Grasz pointed out that Sure-Ondara “repeatedly and expressly told North Memorial that she would take the job even without the accommodation and would ‘try and find my own replacement, and if not able to find one, that meant I would work the shift anyway.’ ”
EEOC spokeswoman Kimberly Smith-Brown said the agency “won’t be commenting” on what is now the case’s second defeat in court.
North Memorial spokeswoman Katy Sullivan said the health care provider “expects to continue its established practice of granting requests for religious accommodation on a case-by-case basis.”
North Memorial offered Sure-Ondara a position as a registered nurse in November 2013. Sure-Ondara then requested a schedule allowing her to not work the Sabbath, from sundown Friday until sundown Saturday. The job offer was withdrawn for good eight days later, even though she relented on her request.
Sure-Ondara, 40, later was hired by Fairview Health Services, which allowed her to observe the Sabbath while working as a home care nurse.