The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has announced that McDonalds’s Restaurants of California, Inc has settled a religious discrimination lawsuit for $50,000. The lawsuit was filed after a Muslim employee at a Fresno McDonald’s was denied his right to grow a beard for religious reasons. The employee was discharged in September 2005. The lawsuit alleged that this conduct violated Title VII of The Civil Rights Act of 1964. Title VII requires employers to make “reasonable accommodations” for the religious beliefs of employees and applicants, as long as it does not harm the business.
The EEOC filed the lawsuit after attempting a pre-litigation settlement with the restaurant corporation. In addition to the monetary settlement, McDonald’s has promised to reinforce its training of mangers and staff to redistribute its policies related to religious discrimination and accommodation.
Religious discrimination is defined by the EEOC as “harmful action against individuals because of their religion in hiring, firing, and other…conditions of employment.” Religious discrimination laws protect not only those who belong to traditional and organized religions, but also those who sincerely believe other religious, ethical or moral values. In addition to employees, applicants are also protected by religious discrimination laws and cannot be discriminated against because of their religious identity.
Employers are also required, according to the EEOC, to accommodate religious practices of an employee or applicant, by allowing dress and grooming requirements, such as yarmulkes, headscarves or facial hair, as long as the practice does not “interfere with the employee’s ability to do their duties.”
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