EEOC: Reasonable Accommodation Denied to Woman Whose Religion Forbids Wearing of Pants

Had an employer in South Carolina tried to accommodate a female job applicant who said her religious beliefs require her to wear a dress to work, it wouldn’t find itself opposite the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in federal court.

According to EEOC’s suit, Clintoria Burnett is an observant member of the Apostolic Faith Church of God and True Holiness, a Pentecostal Christian denomination. Burnett holds the religious belief that she cannot wear pants because she is a woman, and that she is commanded to wear skirts or dresses.

Burnett was hired by recruiter TLSP in or around October 2014. The TLSP extended to Burnett an offer of employment to work at Akebono’s West Columbia, S.C., facility for the benefit of Akebono. While the TLSP had the authority to recruit and hire temporary laborers for placement at Akebono’s facility under the terms of a staffing agreement between the two entities, Akebono maintained the ultimate authority to deny hire to any employee recruited by the TLSP. Burnett accepted the TLSP’s offer of employment.

Akebono maintained a dress code policy requiring employees to wear pants while at Akebono’s facility. Ultimately, Akebono directed the TLSP not to hire Burnett because of her religious belief. Akebono did not consider any potential religious accommodations. Based on Akebono’s directive, the TLSP withdrew Burnett’s offer of employment.

Akebono did not consider any potential religious accommodations: There’s the crux of this lawsuit under Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act.

To read more about the lawsuit, click here.

Thanks to Jon Hyman for including this post in his weekly roundup of Nov. 11, 2016.



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