A federal jury in Trenton has awarded $10,000 to a man denied a job at UPS because he refused to shave off his one-inch beard. Roniss Mason of Jersey City claimed shaving violated his Rastafarian religious beliefs and filed a complaint with the EEOC.
Both Title VII and New Jersey’s Law Against Discrimination require employers to reasonably accommodate employees’ religious beliefs.
A UPS spokesperson claimed the company has a long-standing policy of accommodating religious beliefs. Clearly, the jury didn’t believe that policy was applied in this case. UPS has vowed to appeal. Perhaps it believes it only lost by a whisker.
Advice: Provide training on religious accommodation to all employees who make hiring, promotion and firing decisions.
EEOC guidance is available at www.eeoc.gov/types/religion.html.
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