Guidance for Employers from Abercrombie

By Barry M. Willoughby

At our recent Annual Seminar, we discussed, EEOC v. Abercrombie & Fitch Stores, Inc., an action involving alleged religious discrimination in connection with a refusal to hire that was then pending before the U.S. Supreme Court.  Attendees at the seminar will recall that the case involved an applicant for employment at Abercrombie who was turned down based on the Company’s “look policy,” because she wore a head scarf.  Although the interview for this position did not involve any discussion of whether the applicant wore the scarf for religious reasons, and/or whether she would require an accommodation to allow her to wear the scarf while at work, the EEOC investigation established that the company’s representatives believed that the applicant was wearing the scarf for religious reasons and refused to hire her on that basis. Continue reading

I Believe, I Believe! A Vegan and a Flu Shot

Can an employee be required to get a flu shot? Employers want a healthy workforce and, presumably, employees do not want to be sick. So a flu shot seems like a good idea. And an offer of a free flu shot for employees seems like a great perk.

But the goodwill-nature of a suggestion always seems to change when a suggestion turns into a requirement. Maybe it’s just the rebellious teenager in all of us that reacts negatively to being told that we must do something. Maybe we all have authority issues. I don’t know what it is about being ordered to do something that seems to set off an automatic negative response. Continue reading

Religious Discrimination Claim Succeeds for Failure to Accommodate Facial Hair

religion_rastafarian_lionTitle VII prohibits employers from discrimination based on religion, among other things.  The anti-religious-discrimination requirements actually require employers to go a step further.  Not only must employers refrain from acting (i.e., from discriminating), but they must also take action in the form of providing an accommodation for sincerely held religious beliefs of an employee.  Of course, there are limits on how far an employer must go to make such accommodations. And, like all of Title VII, the law applies not only to employees but to applicants, as well.  Continue reading

Religious Discrimination Claim Filed Over Refusal to Wear Short Shorts to Work

image_115Religious discrimination can arise in a variety of circumstances. For example, just recently, we posted about a religious-discrimination claim filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”), on behalf of four Rastafarians who had been disciplined for their dreadlocks.  In another, fairly unusual, claim of religious discrimination, the issue isn’t hair-style choices, though.  This time, the problem is with short shorts. Continue reading

EEOC Sues over Dreadlocks, Claiming Religious Discrimination

image_458Work rules for dress code are not out of fashion just because the season has changed.  Instead, the topic of “What Not to Wear to Work” is as trendy as ever.  So, for those of you charged with the task of enforcing dress codes and monitoring hem lines, here’s a bit of reassurance that you are not alone.    Continue reading

Religious Discrimination & Prayer At Work: Employees Who Pray

In a recent post, Religious Discrimination & Prayer At Work: Employers Who Pray, we talked about employers who conduct prayer at the start of a business meeting.  The EEOC recently announced that it endorses such conduct, at least insofar as it does not find pre-meeting prayer to be discriminatory per se.  We wondered how many employers would be so bold as to follow this announcement after being counseled for so long that such an idea would be a sure-fire way to land in federal court sued for religious discrimination.  I don’t have any developments to report from the employers but it appear that employees think the idea is ok–so long as they are the ones picking the religion. Continue reading

Religious Discrimination & Prayer At Work: Employers Who Pray

eeoc_3The EEOC recently published an updated Guidance on Religious Discrimination.  The Guidance address the issue of religious discrimination in the workplace in a question-and-answer style format, as well as a “best practices” section.  We posted about the EEOC Guidance previously, in Increase in Religious-Discrimination Claims Prompts EEOC to Issue Updated Guidance. Continue reading