- (Photo: AP)
A Pentecostal woman in Texas has won a $25,000 settlement against fast-food chain Burger King after she was fired for wearing a skirt to work in August 2010 and refusing to change her clothes.
"For 2013 and 2014, defendant agrees to conduct an annual training session for all district managers and general managers for defendant's Texas Burger King restaurants, advising them of the requirements and prohibitions of the federal anti-discrimination laws with a special emphasis on religious discrimination," the nine-page consent decree shared by Courthouse News Service reads. "The training will also inform these individuals of the necessity of attempting to accommodate the religious beliefs of applicants and employees."
Burger King will now have to pay $25,000 to Ashanti McShan, who was 17 years of age when she was let go by the fast food restaurant for wanting to wear a skirt to work for religious reasons. Five thousand dollars of that money will be paid for back wages, while another $20,000 will be paid for mental anguish and non-wage damages.
The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), which filed the federal complaint on behalf of McShan, noted that some Pentecostal Christians believe the Bible teaches that women should wear only skirts and dresses, which goes against Burger King's dress code.
The filing was directed at Fries Restaurant Management, LLC, which operates the Burger King in Grand Prairie, Texas, where the incident took place. The EEOC argued that the restaurant's management violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which protects employees from religious discrimination at the workplace.
"The defendant hired Ms. McShan as a cashier," the complaint states. "At the time of her interview for the job, Ms. McShan asked to wear a skirt instead of uniform pants as a religious accommodation. Defendant assured her that she could wear a skirt to work."
When McShan returned for her first day of work in Aug. 2010, she says that the store manager told her she would have to leave the workplace if she insisted on wearing her skirt.
"We haven't come far enough in our respect of religious liberties at the workplace if we have employers saying that uniform policies trump a religious observance without articulation of any hardship posed by letting an employee 'hold the pickles' and 'hold the lettuce' while wearing a skirt," Regional Attorney Robert A. Canino of the EEOC's Dallas District Office said in Aug. 2012 when the lawsuit was filed.