Food Lion Accused of Religious Discrimination

The Minneapolis Star Tribune reports that Food Lion, a supermarket chain, stands accused of workplace discrimination based on religion. The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) filed a discrimination lawsuit against the chain claiming that it fired a Jehovah's Witness because the worker requested days off due to his religious beliefs. In the suit, the EEOC is seeking back pay, compensatory damages, and punitive damages.

praying 

(Photo Credit: David Castillo Dominici/freedigitalphotos.net)

Man Fired for Requesting Sundays off for Religious Observance

According to the legal filings, the employee is named Victaurius L. Bailey. Food Lion hired Mr. Bailey in 2011. Mr. Bailey is a minister and an elder for his Jehovah's Witness congregation, so he needed Sundays and Thursdays off from work to fulfill his spiritual duties. His original manager accommodated these spiritual requirements.

However, Bailey claims that after some time he was transferred to a different Food Lion location. The manager at the new location allegedly refused to give Bailey Sundays off. According to Bailey, he was then fired.

“No person should ever be forced to choose between his religion and his job.”

In a press release issued by the EEOC, regional attorney for the EEOC's Charlotte District Office, Lynette A. Barnes made statements about the case. Barnes said, “Employers need to ensure that their supervisors and managers who are called upon to make decisions on employees' requests for religious accommodations are fully knowledgeable of their obligations under federal law. ...Many decision makers seem to forget that unless providing a reasonable accommodation would impose an undue hardship on the company, the accommodation must be provided. No person should ever be forced to choose between his religion and his job.”

No Response Yet From Food Lion

When the suit was filed on August 20, 2014, a spokesperson for Food Lion said that the company had not yet been served with the paperwork in the lawsuit, so the company could not comment on the allegations yet. However, if the grocery store chain did discriminate against Bailey, it did so in violation of its own public policies. Food Lion claims on its website that it provides “equal employment opportunity without regard to ... religion.”

Tell Us What You Think

Whether Food Lion discriminated against Bailey because of his religious beliefs is yet to be determined. Do you know someone who has been discriminated against because of their religious beliefs? We want to hear from you! Leave a comment or join in the discussion on Twitter!

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