Deborah Yehudah joined the University of Georgia (UGA) as a cafeteria worker in July 2005. Yehudah received a copy of the university dress code, which restricted allowable hair restraints to hairnets and UGA food service hats or baseball caps.
In September 2005, Yehudah’s supervisor, Rachel Hammond, called Yehudah into her office to tell her that her nail polish and head scarf violated the dress code. Yehudah told Hammond that she had to wear her head scarf for at least two months to comply with her Nubian Islamic Hebrew religion.
Hammond agreed that she could wear it, but asked Yehudah to give her documentation to support her religious claim.
In response, Yehudah went to her locker and retrieved a prayer book. The book was in a language that Hammond did not understand and contained no calendar of required observances. Hammond asked Yehudah to bring specific documentation the next day.
Yehudah initially agreed, but then began yelling and cursing at Hammond, accusing the supervisor of violating her religious rights. Hammond asked Yehudah to leave, but she only became more angry, getting close to Hammond and calling her a “racist bitch.” Hammond terminated Yehudah for yelling and cursing at her.
Yehudah sued for religious discrimination, but the U.S. District Court in Athens made quick work of the case. It found that Hammond tried to accommodate Yehudah and was justified in firing her for her threatening behavior.
- Employee has complained about discrimination? He still has to follow all legitimate rules
- Fix racial harassment before hostile environment starts affecting employee performance
- EEOC targets teen harassment; Ruby Tuesday pays $255,000
- Small businesses: Check to see if you're too small to be sued
- Brush up religious-bias policy; workplace getting more diverse