The Belk department store chain has agreed to pay a former employee $55,000 to settle her religious discrimination suit.
Myra Jones-Abid, a practicing Jehovah’s Witness, worked at the Crabtree Valley Mall store in Raleigh in 2008. When the store began its Christmas promotions that November, all employees were required to wear Santa hats and aprons. Jones-Abid refused, citing her religious beliefs as the reason. Belk fired her.
She filed a complaint with the EEOC, claiming Belk violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act by failing to reasonably accommodate her religious beliefs. Eventually, the EEOC filed suit on Jones-Abid’s behalf.
Under the settlement, Belk agreed to provide annual training to its managers and supervisors about religious accommodations.
Note: Training is the key. Supervisors who are unaware of an employer’s obligation to accommodate religious beliefs may make unreasonable demands—or even fire the employee. That leaves you on the hook for litigation costs.