JACKSON, Miss. (Legal Newsline) — The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission announced a lawsuit Sept. 25 against the restaurant chain Georgia Blue LLC for allegations of rescinding a job offer over an applicant’s religious beliefs.
Kaetoya Watkins allegedly applied to and was given a job offer at Georgia Blue in October 2014. Watkins’ Apostolic Pentacostal religious beliefs mandate that women of the faith must wear skirts. Watkins asked to be able to wear a blue skirt instead of the blue jeans required by Georgia Blue. The restaurant chain denied the accommodation and rescinded the job offer.
"Most religious accommodations are not burdensome, such as allowing an employee to wear a skirt instead of pants," EEOC Birmingham regional attorney Marsha L. Rucker said. "It would have been simple to allow Ms. Watkins to wear a long skirt at work. No worker should be obligated to choose between making a living and following her religious convictions."
The EEOC seeks lost wages and compensatory and punitive damages for Watkins, as well as injunctive relief to bar Georgia Blue from further discrimination.
"Under federal law employers have a duty to provide an accommodation to allow an employee to practice his or her religion when the employer can do so without undue hardship on the operation of the company,” said Delner Franklin-Thomas, district director of the EEOC's Birmingham District Office. “This case shows the EEOC is committed to combating religious discrimination in the workplace."
The EEOC's Birmingham District Office oversees agency operations in Alabama, most of Mississippi and the Florida Panhandle.