Nathaniel Hawkins, Palmyra, Pa., has sued Flowers Foods' Tasty Baking Co., Philadelphia, for $1.8 million, after contending he "lost a lucrative contract to deliver baked goods to Giant Foods supermarkets because he is a Seventh-day Adventist" and wouldn't deliver on Saturdays, the Adventist Sabbath, reports the Harrisburg Patriot-News here.
"Tasty Baking Co. and Giant Food Stores are denying Hawkins’ religious discrimination claim and a separate allegation that Hawkins, who is black, was also a victim of racial discrimination. They contend that Hawkins and his company, Taste N.C. Inc., simply didn’t provide service that was up to par with the terms of its contract."
Hawkins says he initially got good performance reviews. He drove early on Sundays and sometimes hired a non-Adventist helper to take care of Giant and other stores. Later the helper left, but Hawkins remained, according to his suit, "personally unable and unwilling to compromise his religious convictions." In May, Tasty fired him "on grounds of substandard service."
The case may turn on whether the court believes Tasty allowed "reasonable accommodation" for staying home Saturdays as a matter of religious faith.