ORLANDO, Fla. (Legal Newsline) — The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) announced June 14 that HospitalityStaff, a staffing company in Orlando that focuses on Central Florida’s massive hospitality industry, will pay $30,000 after allegations of religious discrimination.
"The Supreme Court's opinion in EEOC v. Abercrombie & Fitch reminds us that we must be vigilant in protecting sincere religious expression in the workplace,” said Robert Weisberg, regional attorney for the EEOC's Miami District Office. “This is particularly important where the commission has recognized 'the increasing complexity of employment relationships and structures, including temporary workers, staffing agencies and independent contractor relationships' in an ever more on-demand economy."
According to EEOC, HospitalityStaff failed to provide Courtnay B. Joseph, a Rastafarian, with reasonable accommodation when he refused to cut his dreadlocks to comply with a client’s grooming standards. The company allegedly took Joseph off his assignment and never gave him a new assignment. Rastafarians wear dreadlocks as part of sincerely held religious beliefs. Making an employment decision because of these beliefs is a violation of Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act.
"HospitalityStaff's decision to provide training and to implement policy changes relating to reasonable accommodations should be commended," said Kimberly A. Cruz, supervisory trial attorney for the EEOC's Miami District Office. "These policy changes demonstrate the company's commitment to providing reasonable accommodations to its employees with sincerely held religious beliefs."