Recently, many of the workplace discrimination lawsuits filed have involved people over 40 who feel they have been discriminated against because of their age. Employers seem to be favoring younger employees who will most likely work for less pay and benefits. However, in a recent discrimination case, the worker that filed a lawsuit was only 17 years old, and the lawsuit did not have anything to do with her age.
The teen had applied at a Burger King in Texas for a cashier position. She follows the Christian Pentecostal faith, which does not allow women to wear pants. She mentioned this to the person interviewing her and was told that she could wear a long skirt instead of pants. She was hired and reported to work for her first day. The manager handling the orientation not only told her she was required to wear pants, but also told her to leave. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) agreed that the teen was discriminated against because of her religion and a lawsuit was filed. The suit asks for damages to cover lost wages with interest as well as punitive damages.
This lawsuit is based on Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits employers from discriminating against potential or current employees based on their religion, among other things. The act states that employers should do their best to accommodate employees' needs based on their religion as long as it does not cause undue hardship on the employer. Undue hardship might be caused by the employer having to spend large amounts of money to make an accommodation or putting other employees in harm's way. In this case, the employee simply wanted to wear a long black skirt instead of black pants to work. How that might cause undue hardship on a fast-food employer is unknown. What is known is that the teen was denied the right to make a little money while she finished up high school.
Burger King restaurants are individually owned by franchisees, and the person who owns the allegedly discriminating restaurant has refused to comment. As can be expected, Burger King Corp. has tried to distance itself from the issue stating, "As a normal course of business, Burger King Corp. does not comment on personnel or legal matters related to its franchisees, who independently own and operate Burger King restaurants."
It is a shame that what was probably this teen's first attempt at joining the workforce ended so poorly. Hopefully she will be awarded what she deserves and the owner and managers of the restaurant will mend their ways. If you think you have been discriminated against because of your race, age, gender, religion or disability, contact a Kentucky employment law attorney such as Charles Miller or Rheanne Falkner to discuss your situation.
Christian Woman Fired from Burger King for Wearing Skirt Instead of Pants; Yahoo.com; Lylah Alphonse; August 24, 2012