Publix Super Markets has agreed to pay $ 50,000 to settle a religious housing discrimination lawsuit, the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission announced Wednesday.
The federal agency filed a lawsuit based on a complaint from a job seeker at a store in Nashville, Tennessee, according to a press release. The candidate, a member of the Rastafarian religious sect, received a job offer, but a Publix supervisor then asked him if he planned to withdraw his candidacy after refusing to cut his hair to comply with the policy of grooming of Publix.
The claimant wears dreadlocks “as part of his sincere Rastafarian religious belief,” the EEOC said in the statement. He asked for a religious accommodation that would allow him to work for Publix without cutting his hair.
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Publix rejected the request and the man chose not to accept the job offer, the EEOC said.
Publix violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits religious discrimination in the workplace, the EEOC said. The agency filed a lawsuit in 2017 in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of Tennessee after trying to reach a pre-litigation settlement, the statement said.
Justice Eli Richardson entered into a two-year consent decree that requires Publix to consider applicants’ requests for religious accommodation; “Reasonably accommodate” employees or qualified candidates whose religious beliefs conflict with company grooming standards; and provide training on non-discrimination and religious accommodation policies to supervisors and human resources employees at the Nashville store.
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Publix, headquartered in Lakeland, operates nearly 1,300 stores in seven states. The company has more than 225,000 employees.
Publix did not immediately respond to a request for comment from The (Lakeland, Fla.) Ledger, which is part of the USA TODAY Network.
Gary White can be contacted at [email protected] Follow on Twitter @ garywhite13.