EEOC sues Kroger Co., claims workers at Conway store fired over religious objections to dress code

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Federal agency claims Conway grocery store fired two workers because of their religious objections to Kroger's new dress code

LITTLE ROCK, Ark.- The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) filed a lawsuit against The Kroger Company Monday.

In the lawsuit, the EEOC claimed Kroger Store No. 625 in Conway violated federal law when it fired two employees who asked for a religious accommodation to avoid wearing an emblem they believed went against their religious beliefs.

According to the lawsuit, the Conway grocery store implemented a new dress code, which included an apron with a rainbow-colored heart emblem on the bib. The women believed the emblem endorsed LGBTQ values and by wearing the apron, their religious beliefs would be violated. According to the EEOC, one woman offered to wear the apron with the emblem covered and the other offered to wear a different apron without the emblem, but the company did not attempt to accommodate. The EEOC claimed when the women refused to wear the apron with the emblem visible, Kroger retaliated against them by disciplining and ultimately firing them.

The EEOC said the alleged conduct violates the Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

The lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Arkansas, Central Division. The suit seeks back pay and compensatory damages, as well as an injunction against future discrimination.

“Companies have an obligation under Title VII to consider requests for religious accommodations, and it is illegal to terminate employees for requesting an accommodation for their religious beliefs,” said Delner-Franklin Thomas, district director of the EEOC’s Memphis District Office, which has jurisdiction over Arkansas, Tennessee and portions of Mississippi. “The EEOC protects the rights of the LGBTQ community, but it also protects the rights of religious people.”

According to the news release sent by the EEOC on Tuesday, The Kroger Company is the largest supermarket by revenue in the country and the second-largest general retailer.

For more information on the EEOC, click here.

KARK has reached out to Kroger for a statement, but we have not heard back.

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