Restaurant caught in birthday suit, now it must pay

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in Discrimination and Harassment,Employment Law,HR Management,Human Resources

A Texas restaurant chain recently agreed to pay $38,750 to a server who says she was fired after refusing to sing “Happy Birthday” to customers. The chain, Razzoo’s Cajun Cafe, agreed to settle the lawsuit brought by Sabrina Balentine—a Jehovah’s Witness who worked at Razzoo’s Mesquite location—who allegedly refused to participate in birthday celebrations because they are proscribed by her religion.

The EEOC sued Razzoo’s on Balentine’s behalf claiming religious discrimination in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. According to the two-year consent decree filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas on June 18, in addition to paying Balentine, Razzoo’s agreed to adopt an anti-discrimination policy and to train its Mesquite managers and HR personnel about religious discrimination.

In the consent decree, which was approved by Judge Sam A. Lindsay, Razzoo’s denied any wrongdoing. According to a Razzoo’s spokeswoman, it was a “business decision to settle the case.”

Final note: Another lesson of this case is don’t sweat the little stuff. Why bother demanding a server participate in singing “Happy Birthday” if the employee is otherwise performing her job?

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