Laurinburg Companies Unlawfully Fired Pentecostal Employee for Refusing to Wear Pants, Federal Agency Charges
LAURINBURG, NC - Scottish Food Systems, Inc. and Laurinburg KFC Take Home, Inc., two North Carolina corporations that operate a chain of Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurants in eastern North Carolina, violated federal law by failing to accommodate an employee's religious beliefs and firing her because of her religion, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in an employment discrimination lawsuit filed today.
According to the EEOC's complaint, Sheila Silver converted to Pentecostalism in 2010. As a member of the Pentecostal church, Silver believes women should wear skirts and, in accordance with this religious belief, has not worn pants since the fall of 2010. Silver has worked for various Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurants since 1992. Scottish Food Systems and Laurinburg KFC Take Home purchased the KFC restaurant where Silver worked in April 2013. At that time, they informed Silver she must wear pants to work because of their dress code policy. Silver told Scottish Food Systems and Laurinburg KFC Take Home she could not wear pants because of her religious beliefs. The companies ultimately fired her for refusing to wear pants to work.
Such alleged conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which requires employers to reasonably accommodate an employees' due to their religious beliefs as long as doing so does not pose an undue hardship. The EEOC filed suit in U.S. District Court for the Middle District of North Carolina (EEOC v. Scottish Food Systems, Inc. d/b/a Kentucky Fried Chicken and Laurinburg KFC Take Home, Inc. d/b/a Kentucky Fried Chicken, Civil Action No. 1:13-CV-00796) after first attempting to reach a voluntary settlement through its conciliation process. The EEOC seeks back pay, compensatory damages and punitive damages, as well as injunctive relief.
"Employers must respect employees' sincerely held religious beliefs and carefully consider requests made by employees based on those beliefs," said Lynette A. Barnes, regional attorney for the EEOC's Charlotte District Office, which includes the EEOC's Raleigh Area Office, where the charge of discrimination was filed. "This case demonstrates the EEOC's continued commitment to fighting religious discrimination in the workplace."