U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
Teen Employee Fired for Refusing to Comply with Company Dress Code, Federal Agency Charges
DALLAS – Fries Restaurant Management, LLC, the owners / operators of a Grand Prairie, Texas Burger King, violated federal law by firing a cashier on her first day of work because of her religion, Christian Pentecostal, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit it filed today.
According to the EEOC’s lawsuit, (Civil Action No. 3:12-cv-03169-M), filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas, Ashanti McShan, a member of the Pentecostal Church, adheres to an interpretation of the scripture about the wearing of clothing that is befitting of specific gender. She informed the company of this aspect of her faith during the job interview, and was told that she could work in a skirt instead of the Burger King uniform pants. However, the EEOC said, when Ms. McShan arrived at orientation, she was told by store management that her skirt was an unacceptable alternative and subsequently sent home. McShan’s calls to higher management went unreturned and she was never asked to return to work, the EEOC said.
Such alleged conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits religious discrimination in the workplace. The EEOC filed suit after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. The EEOC seeks back pay, compensatory and punitive damages, and injunctive relief to ensure that no further discrimination takes place.
“Accommodating Ms. McShan’s religious beliefs would have been simple and cost the company nothing,” said EEOC Trial Attorney Meaghan Shepard. “Management’s failure to comply with federal law deprived this teenage girl of the opportunity to work during her senior year of high school.”
Regional Attorney Robert A. Canino of the EEOC’s Dallas District Office added, “We haven’t come far enough in our respect of religious liberties at the workplace if we have employers saying that uniform policies trump a religious observance without articulation of any hardship posed by letting an employee ‘hold the pickles’ and ‘hold the lettuce’ while wearing a skirt.”
In fiscal year 2011, more than 4,000 charges of religious discrimination were filed with the EEOC nationwide.
The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about the EEOC is available on its web site at www.eeoc.gov.