MI - Muslim flight attendant suspended for refusing to serve alcohol, 25 Aug 2015

K_Z

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Part of her job involves serving alcoholic drinks. But she refused to do it. What is reasonable for an employee to accommodate in these circumstances? Is it reasonable to make another attendant to do a job for two people? Lots of jobs don't require serving alcohol, why doesn't she look for one of those?

To me a reasonable accommodation would be "You can go work at the counter or as a customer service rep in our call center." Or find her some other position she would be qualified for that doesn't involve serving alcohol. If none of those choices are acceptable it's time to amicably part ways.

JMO.

As I understand the EEOC guidelines, another position (accommodation) can be OFFERED by the employer, but not FORCED upon the employee. That would be acting to segregate the employee for their religious beliefs/ expression. If the employee REFUSES the offer of another position that eliminates their objection to some aspect of their duties (maybe even at more $$ or better hours or benefits), then the employee is now responsible for either complying with the duties as outlined by the employer, or else they must show how their offered accommodation no longer meets the definition of "undue hardship" for the emnployer.

This is why I think CS was offered a BETTER (possibly higher paying, better hours) ground position within ExpressJet, but turned it down to make a personal/ political statement. And also why I think ExpressJet will win this one-- I think they have their "ducks in a line" on exactly why she was suspended, pending termination. And I think it has a lot to do with her not being willing to perform the basic functions of her position, and the "undue hardship" the airline has to go to, in order to provide extra/ back up FAs on her flights.

According to their website, ExpressJet has 320 aircraft, leased to several legacy airlines as small regional routes. None of their aircraft seat more than 76 passengers, and all of the routes are one or two FAs. If this FA had claimed the same "discrimination" and worked for a large legacy airline, it would be a different story. ExpressJet's market penetration and regular routes from Detroit (her base) will clearly describe, IMO, why accommodating this FAs "no alcohol" issues are a hardship.

This is WAY different, IMO, than a supermarket employee refusing to scan the alcohol purchases of a customer. Once the plane is buttoned up and at cruise altitude for a turn and burn leg, there is just very minimal ability to accommodate a lot of "will not do" situations by a crew member.

I think ExpressJet will ultimately win this challenge-- JMO. BBM below.

Flight Attendant Job Description

High-quality, personal and safe service is the key to being a great ExpressJet flight attendant.

Candidates should be excellent at multitasking, have outstanding people skills and be experts at working through all types of situations. Our flight attendants ensure safe and comfortable flights on our fleet of CRJ200 (one flight attendant), CRJ700 (two flight attendants with dual-class service), CRJ900 (two flight attendants with dual-class service), ERJ 135 (one flight attendant) and ERJ 145 (one flight attendant) aircraft. Flight attendant duties include, but are not limited to:
•Participate in pre-flight briefings with fellow crew members.
•Ensure the highest level of safety by inspecting safety equipment, announcing and demonstrating safety procedures and verifying passengers’ compliance with safety regulations throughout all stages of flight.
•Make passengers feel comfortable by welcoming them aboard the aircraft, assisting with carry-on luggage, providing beverage and snack services, answering questions, providing timely information and accommodating special requests.
•Provide care for passengers who require special assistance, including unaccompanied minors and passengers with disabilities.
•Inspect aircraft cabins and order supplies in preparation for each flight.
•Provide reassurance to passengers during flight delays, rough air, etc.
•Complete all company required paperwork and reporting in a timely and accurate manner.
•Direct and assist passengers in the event of an emergency.

To apply, locate your desired position on our Job Listings page. From there you’ll have access to the online application and an option to submit your resume.

http://www.expressjet.com/careers/flight-attendants/

http://www.expressjet.com/media/company-fact-sheet/

Total aircraft in operating fleet

320 Bombardier and Embraer Jet Aircraft

Aircraft

(59) 50-passenger Bombardier CRJ200 regional jets
(41) 65-passenger Bombardier CRJ700 regional jets
(28) 76-passenger Bombardier CRJ900 regional jets
(187) 50-passenger Embraer ERJ145 regional jets
(5) 37-passenger Embraer ERJ135 regional jets

**If you cross reference this fleet list with the staffing levels above in the FA job description, it becomes very obvious that the majority of their flights are one FA. And NO flights have more than 2 FAs. That becomes a huge workload issue when only one employee continually has to substitute for what another employee has an objection to. So I think ExpressJet will win this dispute. It's really obvious that on the "one FA" legs all alcohol service would have to be suspended to passengers that this was advertised to, and it isn't usually possible to put another FA on board. On the "2 FA" legs, one FA would have to cover 2 sections on a short turn and burn leg-- also a hardship for the co-worker and the employer. And again, not reasonable (or even feasible) to put yet another staffer onboard. The only remedy available to the employer is to permanently remove/ eliminate a service their passengers expect from advertising by the company. Even EEOC guidelines do not require businesses to substantially alter their services/ product to accommodate the religious beliefs of their employees.

http://www.expressjet.com/about/our-fleet/

http://www.expressjet.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/05/ExpressJet_Equal_Opportunity_Employment.pdf
 
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