A Muslim applicant for a driver helper position with UPS in Rochester, N.Y. is one of the lead plaintiffs in a class-action suit against the delivery service. The EEOC is suing on behalf of several men of various religions who have either allegedly been forced to shave to obtain a UPS job or been denied employment because of their religious beliefs.
UPS’s appearance code for drivers and driver helpers requires men to be clean-shaven, with hair falling above the collar. Muslims, Sikhs, Rastafarians, Orthodox Jews and various Christian sects require men to grow beards or wear long hair.
The EEOC maintains that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act requires employers to accommodate religious beliefs when doing so does not pose an undue hardship.
The suit alleges UPS has never granted a religious accommodation. The EEOC also claims managers have made disparaging remarks about applicants’ religious practices, including telling a Muslim applicant that “God would understand” if he shaved his beard and telling a Rastafarian that he didn’t want employees “looking like women.”
The suit seeks lost wages, compensatory and punitive damages, as well as injunctive relief to prevent further discrimination.