Arkansas District Judge Lee Rodofsky ordered the opening of the Kroger chain of stores. to pay $180,000 to two employees who were fired after they refused to wear an apron with a “colorful heart” and a phrase they considered LGBTQ+ symbolic.
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission filed a lawsuit on September 14 on behalf of Brenda Lawson and Trudy Rickerd, two fired employees, in Arkansas Eastern District Court.
According to court documents, Lawson and Rickerd said at one of Kroger’s offices in Conway, Arkansas, no religious accommodations were provided when they were asked to wear an apron with a “colored heart”.
“The defendant employer refused to consider Lawson’s request for religious accommodation for his sincere religious beliefs. The defendant employer continued to punish Lawson for not following the dress code by wearing an apron, which was contrary to his sincere religious beliefs.”says in the lawsuit.
The legal document contains a demand to return Rickerd and Lawson’s wages, as well as to collect punitive damages. Also asked Kroger to “establish and maintain policies, practices and programs that provide equal employment opportunity” for plaintiffs.
Given this, the federal judge ordered “provide reasonable accommodations to employees who genuinely object to Kroger’s dress code on religious grounds”. Similarly ordered the development of a policy of religious accommodation and training of new employees.
“Both sincerely hold religious beliefs that homosexuality is a sin and that they cannot support or promote it.”the judge said.
A few months ago, the media reported on a similar layoff situation, but in the aviation industry. In mid-July, a federal judge ordered Southwest to pay $5 million in damages to a flight attendant fired from an airline for speaking out against abortion in a 2017 lawsuit.
Charlene Carter said she lost her job after releasing various publications dissenting from the Labor Union of America after he took part in a women’s march in Washington.
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