Reply Brief of Intervenor-Appellant Demetrius Ford


  • James A. Sonne
  • Zeba A. Huq
Publish Date:
June 1, 2023
  • James A. Sonne & Zeba A. Huq, Reply Brief of Intervenor-Appellant Demetrius Ford, No. 22-2944, 22-2943 in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit (Jun. 1, 2023).
Related Organization(s):


This Court must reverse summary judgment for Appellee Center One because the record includes material evidence that it violated Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act by constructively discharging Appellant Demetrius Ford based on his need for religious accommodation.

Title VII protects a religious believer’s ability to pursue a livelihood while fulfilling those commitments that make his life worth living. Pertinently, it forbids employers from subjecting an employee to an adverse employment action based on a conflict between his sincere religious beliefs and a job requirement. In determining whether there was adverse action, Title VII recognizes constructive discharge and treats the matter as a fact-intensive one. Moreover, constructive discharge arises where conditions were so intolerable a reasonable employee would feel compelled to resign or where termination was inevitable—including where the employee faced a choice between following his faith and keeping his job.
The district court rightly found that Ford, as a Messianic Jew, has a sincere need to observe Jewish holidays and these holidays conflicted with his work schedule. The court erred, however, in ruling no jury could find constructive discharge. For not only did Center One fail to resolve the conflict between Ford’s religious and work obligations, the evidence
shows myriad other mistreatment. Among other things, there is evidence that the Company: (1) charged Ford unexcused-absence points under its attendance policy for his holidays; (2) repeatedly demanded a clergy letter Ford could not obtain; (3) dismissed alternative proof of Ford’s holidays; (4) summoned Ford to a corrective-action (ERC) meeting that its policies, witnesses, and brief describe as the final step before termination; (5) knowingly scheduled this last-step meeting on Ford’s
high holy day; (6) insisted Ford could avoid termination for any future holiday absences only with the clergy letter; (7) failed to correct Ford’s reason for resigning that he had upcoming holidays but no clergy letter; and (8) would exempt employees of mainstream faiths from the letter requirement. In sum, a jury could well find constructive discharge based on intolerability or inevitable termination.