Debt Collector Fired Christian Employee After He Refused to Be Fingerprinted Due to His Religious Beliefs, Federal Agency Charged
MINNEAPOLIS — AscensionPoint Recovery Services, LLC (APRS), a Minnesota-based estate and probate debt recovery company, will pay $65,000 to resolve a religious discrimination lawsuit brought by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the federal agency announced today.

According to the EEOC’s suit, APRS fired a Christian employee rather than accommodating his request to be exempted from a fingerprinting requirement due to his religious beliefs. The fingerprinting requirement was prompted by a background check procedure requested by of one of the company’s clients. Shortly after the Christian employee informed APRS that having his fingerprints captured was contrary to his religious practices, APRS fired him. APRS did so without asking the client whether an exemption was available as a religious accommodation, and despite the fact that alternatives to fingerprinting were available.

This alleged conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits discrimination based on religion and requires employers to reasonably accommodate an applicant’s or employee’s religious practice unless it would pose an undue hardship. The EEOC filed its lawsuit (Civil Action No. 0:21-cv-01428) in the U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota, after attempting to resolve the case through its conciliation process.

Besides the monetary relief, the three-year consent decree settling the suit, entered by U.S. District Judge Eric C. Tostrud, requires that APRS revise its policies regarding religious discrimination, in particular to provide that the company will attempt to work with clients and third parties when necessary to explore potential religious accommodations. Under the decree, APRS will also provide training on Title VII to its employees and make regular reports to the EEOC regarding its compliance with the decree.

“The law requires employers to consider accommodations to the religious beliefs and practices of their employees, and to provide an accommodation unless it presents an undue hardship,” said Gregory Gochanour, the EEOC’s regional attorney in the Chicago District Office. “We commend APRS for working with the agency to reach an early resolution to this lawsuit.”

Chicago District Director Julianne Bowman added, “Under Title VII, employers are required to make reasonable adjustments to the work environment that will allow an employee to practice his or her religion. The EEOC will seek to eliminate workplace discrimination wherever it finds it.”

The EEOC’s Chicago District Office is responsible for processing charges of discrimination, administrative enforcement and the conduct of agency litigation in Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa and North and South Dakota, with Area Offices in Milwaukee and Minneapolis.

The EEOC advances opportunity in the workplace by enforcing federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. More information is available at Stay connected with the latest EEOC news by subscribing to our email updates.