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U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission



PRESS RELEASE
8-30-11

EEOC Sues Lexington Staffing Agency For Religious Discrimination

The Tipton Company Refused to Hire Applicant Who Insisted on Wearing Skirt for Religious Reasons, Federal Agency Charges

LOUISVILLE, Ky. – A Lexington staffing agency, The Patty Tipton  Company, violated federal law by refusing to hire a job applicant because she insisted  on wearing a long skirt instead of pants due to her religious beliefs, the U.S.  Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit it filed  today.

According  to the EEOC’s suit, Megan Woodard, a University  of Kentucky student, is a  member of a fundamentalist Baptist church whose members believe that women should  not dress like men. Woodard applied for  a temporary job at the 2010 World Equestrian Games (WEG) held in Lexington, but was denied  a position due to her request for the religious accommodation. Woodard was eventually hired by another  company that had no problem with accomodating her request to wear a long skirt  while working at the WEG.

Title  VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 requires employers to attempt to make  reasonable accommodations to sincerely held religious beliefs of employees as  long as this poses no undue hardship. The  EEOC filed suit (Case No. 5:11-cv-00278-KSF in U.S. District Court for the Eastern  District of Kentucky) after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation  settlement through its conciliation process. The agency is seeking back pay,  compensatory and punitive damages from The Patty Tipton Company for Woodard as  well as other relief, including a permanent injunction to prevent the company  from engaging in any future discrimination.

“As the statute makes clear, employers are  obligated to work toward reasonable accommodations to prevent religious  discrimination,” said Laurie Young, regional attorney for the EEOC’s  Indianapolis District Office. “We are  committed to eliminating all forms of discrimination from the workplace.”

The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment  discrimination. Further information  about the EEOC is available on its web site at www.eeoc.gov.