Two women said they were FIRED because they refused to wear their uniform, as it had a rainbow heart.
Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is taking up their case! Suing grocery chain Kroger
“The women believed the emblem endorsed LGBTQ values and that wearing it would violate their religious beliefs,” says an EEOC press release. The suit alleges the company violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which bans religious discrimination in employment.
The two, Brenda Lawson and Trudy Rickerd, worked at a Kroger store in Conway, Ark., near Little Rock. They have “sincerely held religious beliefs that homosexuality is a sin,” according to the EEOC complaint, filed Monday in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Arkansas.
Lawson, a deli worker who had been with Kroger since 2011, had offered to cover the heart with a name tag. Rickerd, a cashier who’d been a Kroger worker since 2006, had given management a letter outlining her objections to the symbol.
“The complaint alleges retaliation on the part of Kroger, arguing that other employees who simply did not wear the apron or who covered the heart symbol were not disciplined and were treated more favorably than Lawson and Rickerd,” the Democrat-Gazette reports.
“Companies have an obligation under Title VII to consider requests for religious accommodations, and it is illegal to terminate employees for requesting an accommodation for their religious beliefs,” Delner-Franklin Thomas, district director of the EEOC’s Memphis District Office, which has jurisdiction over Arkansas, Tennessee, and portions of Mississippi, said in the press release. “The EEOC protects the rights of the LGBTQ community, but it also protects the rights of religious people.”
The suit seeks back pay, compensatory damages, and punitive damages for the women, help with their job search and relocation expenses, and an order barring Kroger from engaging in such discrimination in the future. The EEOC filed it after trying to reach an out-of-court settlement with the company.