U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
Federal Agency Charged Security Guard Was Fired Because of Mennonite Head Scarf
ATLANTA – The Pollard Agency, a Fruithurst, Ala.-based contract security company, will pay more than $49,000 to settle a religious discrimination lawsuit brought by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency announced today.
The EEOC had charged in its suit that the Pollard Agency discriminated against security guard Marian Lawson by firing her rather than accommodating her religious practice of wearing a head scarf. Pollard, whose belief as a Mennonite Baptist requires the scarf, was fired from a client location in Monticello, Ga.
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 requires employers to reasonably accommodate the sincerely held religious beliefs of employees and job applicants so long as such measures do not cause hardship to the employer. The EEOC filed suit on March 8, 2010, in U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Georgia after first attempting to reach a voluntary pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.
The consent decree settling the suit, in addition to the monetary relief of $49,556, includes provisions for equal employment opportunity training, reporting, and postings. In the suit and consent decree, Pollard denied any liability or wrongdoing.
“This early settlement benefits everyone involved, especially Ms. Lawson, who can now put this episode behind her,” said Robert Dawkins, regional attorney for the Atlanta District Office. “The EEOC is pleased that Pollard chose to resolve the matter early and to take steps to ensure similar problems do not occur in the future.”
The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about the EEOC is available on the agency’s web site at www.eeoc.gov.