Kentucky Fried Chicken Franchise Pays $40,000 to Settle EEOC Religious Discrimination Lawsuit

Laurinburg Companies Unlawfully Fired  Pentecostal Employee for Refusing to Wear Pants, Federal Agency  Charged

LAURINBURG, N.C. - Scottish Food Systems,  Inc. and Laurinburg KFC Take Home, Inc. will pay $40,000 and furnish other  relief to resolve a religious discrimination lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal  Employment Opportunity Com­mission (EEOC), the agency announced today.  Scottish Food Systems and Laurinburg KFC Take  Home are based in Laurinburg, N.C.  and  jointly operate a chain of Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurants in North  Carolina. 

According to the EEOC's complaint, Sheila  Silver converted to Pentecostalism in 2010.   As a member of the Pentecostal church, Silver believes women cannot wear  pants.  In accordance with this religious  belief, Silver 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 Rocky Mount, N.C., in April 2013.  The EEOC's complaint alleged that the  companies informed Silver she must wear pants to work because of their dress  code policy.  According to the EEOC,  Silver told Scottish Food Systems and Laurinburg KFC Take Home she could not  wear pants because of her religious beliefs.   However, 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 (Title VII), which requires employers to reasonably  accommodate an employee's religious beliefs as long as doing so would not pose  an undue hardship.  The EEOC filed suit on  September 19, 2013 in U.S. District Court for the Middle District of North  Carolina (EEOC v. Scottish Food Systems,  Inc. and Laurinburg KFC Take Home, Inc., Civil Action No. 1:13-CV-00796)  after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its  conciliation process. 

In  addition to monetary damages, the three-year consent decree resolving the suit  requires Scottish Food Systems and Laurinburg KFC Take Home to adopt a formal  religious accommodation policy and to conduct an annual training program on the  requirements of Title VII and its prohibition against religious discrimination.  Scottish Food Systems and Laurinburg KFC Take  Home will also post a copy of their anti-discrimination policy at all of their  facilities. 

"Employers  must accommodate an employee's sincerely held religious belief when such an  accommodation would not pose an undue hardship," said  Lynette A. Barnes, regional attorney for the EEOC's Charlotte District  Office.  "This case demonstrates the  EEOC's continued commitment to fighting religious discrimination in the  workplace."

The EEOC is responsible for enforcing  federal laws prohibiting discrimination in employment.  Further information about the EEOC is  available on its web site at www.eeoc.gov