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Restaurant worker is protected from religious discrimination

Allegations of religious discrimination in employment seem to have picked up in recent years. Perhaps that has to do with the spread of a variety of fundamentalist religious doctrines both domestically in the United States and internationally. The effect of these groups' activities has been to project the issue of religion directly into disputes such as the freedom to practice and honor one's religion at work. Religious discrimination at work is thus a current topic of general concern in Michigan and throughout the country.

The push to be free to assert religious rights in the workplace has come into conflict with our constitutional foundation that respects that religion will not be interjected into our public lives involuntarily. Congress shall make no law tending toward the establishment of a religion. However, there is a difference between protecting an individual's private religious freedoms and forcing certain religious principles or practices upon a society as a whole.

The former category came into question in a recent case in California involving a Muslim male who was working in management at a McDonald's restaurant. He quit the job when his superiors denied his request to wear a beard for religious reasons. As discussed in prior blogs, the EEOC will go forward with federal litigation on behalf of the employee where it feels the issue is important enough or requires emphatic enforcement. In this case, the EEOC filed a lawsuit against McDonald's alleging religious discrimination

The suit was recently settled for $50,000. The restaurant will also take measures to increase the awareness and training of its staff on the protections of the civil rights acts and the prohibition against religious discrimination at work. From the simple set of facts published, it appears that a similar result would occur in Michigan. The maintaining of facial hair is generally recognized to be an aspect of religious practice for Muslims and other religions. Because the practice doesn't interfere with other workers' rights to be free from religious influences at work, this practice is given the full protection of the law.

Source: CBS Sacramento, McDonalds To Pay $50,000 To Muslim Employee In Discrimination Lawsuit, No author, Dec. 20, 2013

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