Management for the Aldi discount grocery store in Uniontown refused to give an employee an exemption from working on Sundays because of religious beliefs, claiming that it would disrupt the entire chain's operations.
But a woman who worked at the Erie store hasn't worked a single Sunday for 21\u20442 years because she is in a rock band.
Attorneys for Kimberly Bloom, who filed the religious discrimination lawsuit against Aldi, believe that making an accommodation for a woman in a rock cover band proves that the store discriminated against Ms. Bloom's religious beliefs.
But lawyers for the German grocery chain countered by saying that the accommodation for the band member was only made possible because the Erie store had at least two other employees who volunteered to take that woman's shift as a cashier.
Ms. Bloom, who worked as a part-time cashier for Aldi, was fired in February 2006 after she failed to show up for two scheduled Sunday shifts. When she was first hired at the store, it wasn't open on Sundays. But that changed in late 2005.
Ms. Bloom believes it is a sin to work on Sundays.
Kim Anderson, the director of Aldi store operations, spent much of yesterday on the witness stand during the civil trial before U.S. District Judge Nora Barry Fischer.
She testified that Ms. Bloom's request was too hard to accommodate.
"It was a very difficult situation for me," said Ms. Anderson, who said that such an exception could spread through the whole chain and disrupt its operations.
Other employees at the Uniontown store threatened to quit if Ms. Bloom got the exemption. And by not including her in the Sunday rotation, it would put an unfair burden on the other cashiers to fill her spot, she said.
Mr. Cordes hammered on the point that Aldi management never told Ms. Bloom she could trade her Sunday shifts with someone else.
But Ms. Anderson said she didn't believe she had to tell the woman that because it was done in the store all the time.
Paula Reed Ward can be reached at email@example.com or 412-263-2620.