Religious freedom is guaranteed in the United States by the First Amendment of our Constitution. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 – specifically Title VII – ensures that employers “make reasonable accommodations to the sincerely held religious beliefs of employees and applicants as long as this causes no harm to the business.”
A man in Fresno, California, recently settled a lawsuit filed against corporate fast-food giant, McDonald’s. The suit was filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunities Commission for the man in Fresno’s U.S. District Court in 2005. The suit alleged that McDonald’s refused to make “reasonable accommodations” when the man requested that he be allowed to grow a beard.
The former employee had been hired in 2001, promoted to a training position in 2003 and then fired sometime after the fast-food restaurant denied his request. The suit was settled for $50,000, but the corporation is now required to create and distribute a policy against discrimination to the restaurants owned in two cities in California. In addition, managers at those restaurants must be trained on the proper and non-discriminatory way to handle such requests based on an employee’s beliefs based on his or her religion.Training will also be provided for employees to allow them to learn more about their employee rights, such as being free from retaliation.
The EEOC was pleased with the outcome of the case, saying that they hope that more employers will do as McDonald’s plans to do to ensure that there are “extensive non-discrimination policies” in place.
For those who believe they have been discriminated against, it’s important to know that you have rights against such behavior. Employment law attorneys can help by explaining your legal rights and options should you decided to file a civil suit against a past or current employer.
Source: The Fresno Bee, “McDonald’s settles Fresno suit by Muslim employee banned from growing beard” Tim Sheehan, Dec. 20, 2013