Employment Discrimination Blog

Monday, January 14, 2019

Can My Employer Require Me To Wear Clothing That Violates My Religious Beliefs?

Religious freedom has long been a central ideology of the United States.  Our constitution protects the right of the American people to practice the religion of their choosing.  Yet even today in the 21st century, cases continue to arise in which employees are discriminated against due to their religious beliefs.  Our Atlanta, Georgia employment discrimination lawyers explore the recent court case involving the restaurant “Georgia Blue” and the current protections afforded employees based on their religion today.

EEOC Sues Georgia Blue 

Georgia Blue, LLC, is a chain of restaurants located throughout Mississippi.  This restaurant chain, which specializes in Creole type food, found itself in hot water when it was sued by the EEOC for rescinding a job offer to an employee who asked to wear a skirt rather than pants due to her religious beliefs.  The facts of the case are as follows:

In 2015, Georgia Blue offered a job to a female restaurant server.  Georgia Blue had a dress code in place requiring that all servers wear blue jeans.  The server informed her employer that as an Apostolic Pentecostal, her religion believed women should wear only skirts or dresses.  She asked to be able to wear a blue skirt, but her accommodation request was denied.  The EEOC took action, asserting that the restaurant’s conduct violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.  Georgia Blue ultimately settled the matter for $25,000 and will surely now honor an employee’s reasonable requests for religious based accommodations. 

Religious Accommodations Under Title VII

Title VII requires that employers provide reasonable accommodations for an employee’s religious beliefs, unless it presents an undue burden.  Religion is defined very broadly, and could include traditional organized religions, along with less common religious beliefs that are not part of a widely recognized sect. Examples of the most commonly requested religious accommodations include:

  • Requests to wear religious garb or clothing not a part of the company dress code;
  • Schedule changes to allow the employee to go to church or other worship services;
  • Break schedules to allow for daily prayers;
  • Sunday off work due to a religious prohibition on working on the Sabbath.

Employees who require a religious accommodation and have been denied their reasonable request should contact an employment discrimination lawyer right away.  You may have the right to pursue legal action against your employer who has violated your legal rights to religious accommodations.  

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