Kroger Employees File Religious Discrimination Lawsuit Over 'Rainbow' Apron
Sep 25, 2020
In a lawsuit filed Monday in a U.S. District Court in Arkansas, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) accused Kroger Co. of unlawful employment practices in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The complaint alleges that Kroger refused to accommodate two former employees who expressed religious objections to wearing an apron embroidered with a rainbow-colored heart based on their “good faith belief” that the symbol represented advocacy for the LGBTQ community. Title VII prohibits discrimination in the workplace for various reasons including religious beliefs.
Kroger employees allege religious discrimination over 'rainbow' apron
The two former employees of the grocery chain, Brenda C. Lawson and Trudy K. Rickerd, were disciplined and ultimately terminated because of their objections to the dress code that stemmed from their religious beliefs, according to an EEOC complaint. The lawsuit also claims that Kroger did not fire other employees who refused to wear the apron without citing their religious beliefs.
“(Kroger) refused to accommodate the religious beliefs of Lawson and Rickerd, and disciplined and terminated them because of their religious beliefs and in retaliation for requesting a religious accommodation,” the EEOC said in the complaint.
The EEOC is seeking an injunction barring Kroger from discriminating against employees with similar beliefs. The lawsuit also requests back pay, reimbursement for relocation and job search expenses, compensation for emotional pain and suffering, and punitive damages. Kroger has declined to confirm whether the symbol was actually intended to communicate its support for LGBTQ rights, as the women claim.
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