United States District Court, E.D. Arkansas, Northern Division
CARLO W. OBREGON and SAMUEL WATERS PLAINTIFFS
CAPITAL QUARRIES COMPANY, INC., owned or held by Farmer Holding Company, Inc. DEFENDANT
Marshall Jr., United States District Judge.
and Waters worked at a Capital Quarries mine near Pocahantas.
Obregon was there for several years, Waters a few months. The
company fired Obregon based on two days in a row of safety
violations. It fired Waters based on a safety violation and
an unexcused absence. The former employees say they were set
up. Obregon is Hispanic, a naturalized citizen. Waters is
Caucasian. Both sought Saturdays off to keep the Sabbath.
Obregon claims he faced a hostile work environment because of
his national origin and request for religious accommodation.
Waters claims he was targeted for supporting his co-worker on
the Sabbath-keeping. Obregon also says he was paid less than
Waters and others for equal work. According to Obregon,
supervisor Jesse Doran led co-workers in the campaign of
hostility. Waters faults Doran, too. Capital Quarries seeks
summary judgment, while the former employees say genuine
disputes of material fact require a jury trial. The Court
takes the record where genuinely disputed in the light most
favorable to Obregon and Waters, drawing all reasonable
inferences in their favor. Oglesby v. Lesan, 929
F.3d 526, 531-32 (8th Cir. 2019).
and Waters's constitutional claims fail. Capital Quarries
isn't a state actor, and they haven't shown any joint
activity between it and any state actors. Magee v.
Trustees of Hamline University, Minnesota, 747 F.3d 532,
536 (8th Cir. 2014).
Equal Pay Act claim fails because he's not claiming wage
discrimination on the basis of sex. 29 U.S.C. § 206(d).
says he asked in February 2016 not to work on Saturdays, as
required by his religion. The company has no record or recall
of his request at that time; Obregon doesn't have any
record of it either. But Obregon and Capital Quarries agree
he made the same request in September 2016 and they discussed
it. Around that time, Obregon filed an EEOC charge claiming
Capital Quarries had denied him a religious accommodation.
Before getting notice of that charge, the company wrote
Obregon a letter saying he couldn't have every Saturday
off, given the number of staff on hand and the level of
production required. Instead, the company offered him every
other Saturday off, and it gave him the overall work schedule
so he could ask others to step in for him voluntarily on his
assigned Saturdays. Obregon acknowledges he didn't work
any Saturdays for almost two years, between late September
2016 and early August 2018, when Waters was hired. No. 46-1
at 19; No. 59 at 3; No. 48-1 at 12. Between then and when he
was fired in December 2018, Obregon says he worked some
Saturdays. Capital Quarries, however, says he didn't work
any Saturdays at least through 6 October 2018.
parties do not focus on accommodation of Waters. The basic
facts are these. About two months after he started, a truck
Waters was driving malfunctioned; in response, supervisor
Doran yelled and threw his hard hat at Waters. No. 57-10 at
1; No. 48-1 at 82-84; No. 59 at 9. Soon afterwards, Waters
asked to have Saturdays off for religious reasons. At his
deposition, Waters said another reason he made the request
was to spend less time with Doran. No. 48-1 at 65-66. And he
said that before the yelling incident, working on Saturdays
"wasn't ever an issue." No. 48-1 at 65. The
company responded to Waters's request like it did with
Obregon: every other Saturday off, and the schedule for
possible substitutions. No. 48-1 at 182. Waters worked the
first two Saturdays after his request because the company
said it needed time to consider and respond to it. No. 48-1
at 182. The record doesn't show how many other Saturdays,
if any, Waters worked thereafter; about two months' worth
are in question. Waters couldn't remember how many
Saturdays he worked after he made his request. No. 48-1 at
obligated Capital Quarries to reasonably accommodate
Obregon's and Waters's sincere religious beliefs
unless it could show that doing so would impose an undue
hardship on the company. Harrell v. Donahue, 638
F.3d 975, 979 (8th Cir. 2011). Obregon ended up having almost
all Saturdays off after his firm accommodation request.
Capital Quarries provided him a path to do so. On this
record, there's no genuine factual dispute for trial as
to whether the company reasonably accommodated Obregon's
beliefs. It did, as a matter of law.
Waters, the company also responded to his request and
articulated a reasoned basis for its proposed accommodation.
It didn't give Waters every Saturday off because it said
only he and Obregon were assigned a certain truck driving
role, and Obregon had already requested every other Saturday
off. No. 48-1 at 182. At his deposition, Waters questioned
this reasoning. He mentioned unnamed employees who didn't
work Saturdays despite being "just as qualified" to
drive the truck as he and Obregon were. No. 48-1 at 67, 69.
Waters agreed that he and Obregon were the two employees who
primarily drove the dump truck. No 48-1 at 31.
hasn't presented sufficient evidence to support a verdict
that Capital Quarries's proposed accommodation was
unreasonable. Capital Quarries wasn't required to give
Waters exactly what he asked for. Instead, the law required
the company to make serious efforts to accommodate him.
Sturgill v. United Parcel Service, Inc., 512 F.3d
1024, 1033 (8th Cir. 2008). Its consistent responses to
Obregon's and Waters's requests indicate a serious
effort. Also, having workers swap days can be a reasonable
accommodation. Sturgill, 512F.3d at 1032. The
governing law requires cooperation from both sides.
Chrysler Corp. v. Mann, 561 F.2d 1282, 1285 (8th
Cir. 1977). There's some murkiness, but no genuine
factual dispute for trial on this issue as to Waters.
Bedford v. Doe, 880 F.3d 993, 996-97 (8th Cir.