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Burger King pays teen $25,000 in religious discrimination lawsuit

Employers in San Diego have the power to fire employees who aren't complying with company policies or doing their jobs properly. Yet, when a company terminates employment, employers must make sure their reasons for terminating employees are lawful.

One company that owns and operates several Burger King restaurants in the U.S. was recently accused of violating the law by terminating a teen's employment because she had worn a long skirt to work. The company was ordered to pay $25,000 to the teenager because the employer did not terminate the teen under lawful conditions. After being fired, the teen filed a lawsuit against the employer citing workplace discrimination.

According to the lawsuit, the teen wore a skirt to work as opposed to black pants, which is the uniform look at Burger King restaurants. The high school senior is Pentecostal, which does not allow girls or women to wear pants.

The teen had sought permission from Burger King to wear a skirt to work in order to accommodate her religious practices and she was told she could do so, but when she showed up for job orientation wearing a skirt, the restaurant's management told her to leave because of it. Although she explained her reason for wearing the skirt, she was still told to leave.

Employers do not have to make exceptions for an employee's religious beliefs and practices if the company can prove it is "unable to reasonably accommodate" the employee without "undue hardship" on the business. This wasn't the case in the recent incident involving Burger King, though. The restaurant could have allowed the teen to wear a skirt without causing any disruptions in the workplace.

The teen will receive a total of $25,000 including $20,000 for mental anguish and non-wage damages as well as another $5,000 in lost wages. In addition to compensating the teen for violating her employment rights, the company must post its policy against religious discrimination on every employee bulletin board in every Burger King restaurant it operates.

Source: The Huffington Post, "Burger King Lawsuit Results In $25,000 For Texas Pentecostal Teen Who Wore Skirt To Work," Hunter Stuart, Jan. 22, 2013