The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has filed a lawsuit against Chalfont & Associates Group, the owner of the McDonald’s in Longwood, Florida, after they allegedly refused to hire a Jewish man for not shaving his beard.
According to the lawsuit, Morteza Javadi applied for a part-time maintenance job at that McDonald’s in September 2016. During his interview, the hiring manager told Javadi that he would have to shave his beard to comply with the company’s grooming policy.
Javadi told the manager that he couldn’t shave his beard because of his religion, but that he could wear a beard net. The manager still told him that he would have to shave for the position.
The EEOC said that the management’s refusal to hire the man violates federal statutes that prevent discrimination based on religion. The EEOC also stated that the law “requires employers to reasonably accommodate an applicant’s or employee’s sincerely held religious beliefs, unless it poses an undue hardship.”
“The fact that McDonald’s has grooming policies does not exempt them from following the law,” EEOC Regional Attorney Robert Weisberg said in a statement.
“McDonald’s was aware the applicant could not shave his beard for religious reasons, but refused to accommodate his religious beliefs. Employers should never force applicants to choose between their sincerely held religious beliefs, which can be reasonably accommodated, and earning a living.”
The lawsuit demands back pay with interest and punitive damages.
This isn’t the first time an employer has been accused of discriminating on a potential hire based on their religion. In December 2016, the Sikh Coalition filed a lawsuit on behalf of Dr. Jaswinder Pal Singh, who says he was denied a neurology job after the employer asked about his religious appearance.
“It was very clear to me that I was denied employment because of my ethnic background and religious appearance. I contacted the Sikh Coalition because nobody is better at holding companies accountable for their discrimination,” he said.