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Sample Essay on Case Review: Toledo versus Nobel-Sysco, Inc., 892 F.2d 1481 (10th Cir. 1989)

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Sample Essay on Case Review: Toledo versus Nobel-Sysco, Inc., 892 F.2d 1481 (10th Cir. 1989)
Summary of facts


Sample Essay on Case Review: Toledo versus Nobel-Sysco, Inc., 892 F.2d 1481 (10th Cir. 1989)

 Inc in early March 1984. The defendant major business included distribution of equipments, edibles, and other supplies to consumers in an expansive area of: Colorado, Wyoming, New Mexico, and Arizona. The job required truck drivers to make deliveries in these states throughout the week and under minimal supervision ((Toledo v Nobel-Sysco, 1989).


Nobel replied to Toledo’s application and slated an interview at its Albuquerque office. At the time the defendant’s office manager Rodney Plagmann supervised the interview. Having satisfied the corporation as to the basic qualifications and relevant experience the next step would include four tests regularly given to all applicants. One of the test that culminated to this case was a polygraph test to enquire into genuineness and credibility of the interviewee reply to questions about past illegal drug use. The defendant company had made it a policy not to consider candidates who had history of drug consumption and more specifically two years preceding their job application (Toledo v Nobel-Sysco, 1989).

Coincidentally, the plaintiff was a congregant at the Native American Church that allowed use of a plant called peyote in church ceremonies; the plaintiff had used peyote twice in the previous six months.


The Office manager told Toledo the company would probably not hire him but first consulted with defendant’s director of personnel. The director called Jack Moore of Mountain States Employers Council who at the time was defendant labor relations advisor and shared the details of the plaintiff’s interview. Moore told Etherton that although religious use of peyote was legal; hiring a known user would expose Nobel to potential liability if he were ever involved in an accident while driving for Nobel (Toledo v Nobel-Sysco, 1989). Etherton then told Plagmann not to hire the plaintiff because of his use of peyote. Feeling aggrieved, Toledo instituted a claim of race and national origin discrimination under both Title VII and 42 U.S.C. § 1981 (Toledo v Nobel-Sysco, 1989).


The main issue for determination in this case was, first, whether Noble deviated from Title VII obligation to provide a reasonable accommodation for the religious beliefs and discriminated the claimant on basis of race and national discrimination. Second, Whether Noble would have suffered undue hardship by excusing Toledo before and after church ceremonies?


The plaintiff argued in the district and appellate court that the defendant offended Title VII ” 42 U.S.C. § 2000 e-2 (Toledo v Nobel-Sysco, 1989). Briefly, the section makes it unlawful employment practice for an employer to fail or refuse to hire or to discharge any individual because of such individual’s religion. Religion is defined by the Act as follows: “ includes all aspects of religious observance and practice, as well as belief, unless an employer demonstrates that he is unable to reasonably accommodate to an employee’s or prospective employee’s religious observance or practice without undue hardship on the conduct of the employer’s business” (Toledo v Nobel-Sysco, 1989).


The bench trial court made a finding in favour of Noble on religious discrimination. The court was of the opinion that even if the plaintiff had set out a prima facie case on religious discrimination ground, an offer made on July in the course of the HRC proceedings constituted reasonable accommodation of Toledo’s religious practices. Moreover, the district court refused to award the plaintiff back pay for the four months between the discriminatory act and the accommodation offer because Toledo had not proved he was entitled to any amount (Toledo v Nobel-Sysco, 1989).


On the issue of ‘reasonable accommodation’ the Supreme Court relied on the decision in Ansonia Bd. of Educ. v. Philbrook, 479 US (1986) where the court observed that the reasonable accommodation duty was fused into the law, rather clumsily, while defining of religion. The sitting court held that, “the intent and effect of this definition of ‘religion’ is to make it a violation of § 2000e-2(a) (1) for an employer not to make reasonable accommodations, short of undue hardship, for the religious practice of employees and prospective employees” (Toledo v Nobel-Sysco, 1989).


Noticeably, the lower court adopted two tests and which was successfully proved by Toledo: the plaintiff has the burden of establishing a prima facie case and second test involve proof of reasonable accommodation which Noble managed by making settlement offers. The court also considered that Toledo never used Peyote outside church ceremonies and could therefore put safety measures. Regarding the back pay, Title VII presumes that plaintiff’s refusal of a defendant’s job offer normally clips the defendant’s ongoing responsibility for backpay (Toledo v Nobel-Sysco Inc, 1989). However, the court was categorical that once Toledo established a claim on discrimination he ought to avail evidence on damages. The appeal court agreed with the district court on the claim of racial and national discrimination because Toledo failed to produce evidence that Noble is a peyote-free drivers.



The Supreme Court felt that the district court did not consider the impact of 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-5 (b) in the case and remanded the case. Moreover, the court should determine the issue on undue hardship on its own merit and distinguish it from other cases. The court added that the issue raised in the case did not touch on the First Amendment but squarely lied under Title VII.


Toledo v. Nobel-Sysco, Inc., 892 F.2d 1481 (10th Cir. 1989)

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