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EEOC Files Lawsuit Against McDonald’s for Failing to Hire Man with a Beard

The EEOC has filed a lawsuit against a franchise of McDonald’s restaurants citing claims that federal law was violated when the owner refused to hire a job applicant who would not shave his beard due to religious beliefs. 

The U.S. Equal Opportunity Commission has filed a lawsuit against a franchise of McDonald’s restaurants citing claims that federal law was violated when the owner refused to hire a job applicant who would not shave his beard due to religious beliefs.

The case is lodged against Chalfont & Associates Group, Inc., owner of multiple McDonald’s restaur­ants in Central Florida.

According to the EEOC’s lawsuit, a practicing Hasidic Jew applied for a part-time maintenance worker position at a McDonald’s in Longwood, Fla. During his interview, the hiring manager told the applicant he would be hired, but needed to shave his beard to comply with McDonald’s grooming policy. McDonald’s grooming policy states “[a]ll employees must be completely clean shaven.” The applicant told the hiring manager he would not shave his beard due to his religious beliefs. The appli­cant offered to wear a beard net as a solution, but was denied.

From the press release:

Such alleged conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 which prohibits dis­crimination based on religion and requires employers to reasonably accommodate an applicant’s or employee’s sincerely held religious beliefs, unless it poses an undue hardship.

The EEOC filed suit in U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida, Orlando Division (EEOC v. Chalfont & Associates Group, Civil Action No. 6:19-cv-01304-PGB-GJK), after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. The EEOC seeks back pay, compensatory damages and punitive damages, as well as injunctive relief.

“The fact that McDonald’s has grooming policies does not exempt them from following the law,” said EEOC Regional Attorney Robert Weisberg. “McDonalds was aware the applicant could not shave his beard for religious reasons, but refused to accommodate his religious beliefs. Employers should never force applicants to choose between their sincerely held religious beliefs, which can be reasonably accommodated, and earning a living.”

Michael Farrell, district director for the Miami District Office, said, “The employer’s conduct in this case was unjustified and unlawful. The EEOC consistently encourages employers to review their policies and practices to ensure they follow federal mandates regarding workplace accommodations for religious beliefs and practices.”

The EEOC is responsible for enforcing federal laws against employment discrimination. The Miami District Office’s jurisdiction includes Florida, Puerto Rico and U.S. Virgin Islands.

The EEOC advances opportunity in the workplace by enforcing federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination.

Jessica Szilagyi is a former Statewide Contributor for AllOnGeorgia.com.

1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Nelda smith

    August 6, 2019 at 11:24 am

    I UNDERSTAND THE HASIDIC LAWS , BUT, IF THE JOB REQUIREMENT STATES “CLEAN SHAVEN “, THE APPLICANT SHOULD LOOK FOR WORK ELSEWHERE. IT’S CALLED COMMON SENSE”…GET SOME!

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