Teen says Burger King’s dress code violated her religious practices

Strict dress codes are typical requirements for many jobs. It is not illegal for an employer to mandate that its employees wear uniforms or follow dress code requirements to convey a professional environment.

Most employees in San Diego have very little problems with adhering to these dress codes. But on occasion, an employer’s dress code may conflict with an employee’s religious beliefs or practices, which may ban some articles of clothing or require other customary garments.

The Civil Rights Act of 1964 makes it illegal for an employer to engage in religious discrimination against any employee, unless an employee’s request for a religious accommodation poses an “undue hardship” for an employer.

More specifically, an employer has a responsibility to accommodate a request to wear clothing that is required by a religious practice, unless it creates an “undue hardship” or is dangerous. If the employer does not accommodate such a request, the employer could be held liable for religious discrimination.

Recently, a teenage girl filed a lawsuit against a Burger King franchise for its religious discrimination against her. The girl is a Pentecostal Christian and she is not allowed to wear pants. She must wear long skirts instead. When she applied for a job at Burger King, the dress code required all employees to wear pants. The girl explained that this violated her religious practices, and a Burger King manager told her that she could show up for the first day of work in a long skirt.

But when the girl arrived for her orientation wearing a long skirt, another manager asked her to leave.

Although the girl was never officially allowed to work, Burger King is being sued for back pay and interest. The teen is disappointed that she was denied the opportunity to work and save money during her senior year of high school as a result of the company’s religious discrimination practices.

Source: Yahoo!, “Christian woman fired from Burger King for wearing skirt instead of pants,” Lylah M. Alphonse, Aug. 24, 2012

  • Our firm handles a variety of employment and labor law issues, including similar situations like the one discussed in this blog post. To learn more about employees’ rights in the workplace, please visit our San Diego employment lawyers page.

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