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Company Issues Accommodation Policy for Grooming Standards to Settle EEOC Dispute

A recent settlement between a staffing company and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) offers a reminder that company-wide grooming standards may implicate protections under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Orlando-based HospitalityStaff required a Rastafarian employee to cut his dreadlocks if he wanted to remain employed for a client that had specific grooming standards. The EEOC filed a lawsuit against the company, claiming the failure to provide an accommodation constituted religious discrimination because Rastafarians wear dreadlocks as part of a sincerely held religious belief.

To settle the dispute, the company agreed to pay $30,000 and amend its employee handbook and policy manual to provide reasonable accommodations for requests based on religious beliefs.

The EEOC commended the company’s decision to implement policy changes relating to reasonable accommodations, and noted the rising frequency with which these issues manifest given “the increasing complexity of employment relationships and structures, including temporary workers, staffing agencies, and independent contractor relationships in an ever more on-demand economy.”

Jonathan L Crook practices on the firm’s litigation team. He focuses on employment law, business litigation, and insurance coverage analysis. Jonathan can be reached at jlc@ymh.com or (919) 782-6860.

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HospitalityStaff To Pay $30,000 To Settle EEOC Religious Discrimination Lawsuit

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