The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunities Commission has alleged religious discrimination in an employment discrimination case against McDonald’s. According to the lawsuit, the plaintiff asked his employers at a Fresno, California McDonald’s for permission to wear a beard according to his religious practices. Such a request falls under legal guidelines for accommodating religious beliefs of employees, according to the director of the Fresno EEOC. However, the lawsuit alleges that the employer illegally declined to allow him to wear a beard while working and subsequently terminated his employment.

According to an EEOC statement, the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Title VII, directs employers to make such accommodations as long as they are reasonable and do not interfere with or negatively impact the business. In addition, businesses must ensure that such requests do not result in punitive actions or disciplinary measures against the employee. The plaintiff, who is Muslim, had been promoted two years prior to making his request and had been employed at that McDonald’s location for about four years.

McDonald’s has chosen to settle the lawsuit. As part of the settlement, the plaintiff will be paid $50,000 and have all adverse annotations in his employment record cleared. Several Fresno-area McDonald’s restaurants will also present guidance and instruction to employees about their employment rights under Title VII and to their managers about what to do in similar circumstances. EEOC attorneys were satisfied with this result and praised the company’s actions in responding to the lawsuit.

Although the rights of workers to request this kind of adjustment or accommodation has been established, ignorance or disregard of the law can still happen on occasion. Anyone who believes that they have been the target of workplace discrimination, whether it is based on religion, gender or national origin, might benefit from consulting an attorney.

Source: The Fresno Bee, “McDonald’s settles Fresno suit by Muslim employee banned from growing beard “, Tim Sheehan, December 20, 2013