EEOC Files Pants Suit

On September 19, 2013 the EEOC brought a Title VII religious discrimination action against Scottish Food Systems, Inc. (“Scottish Food”) and Laurinburg KFC Take Home, Inc. (“Laurinburg”) (d/b/a Kentucky Fried Chicken) for allegedly failing to accommodate and ultimately terminating an employee because of her religious beliefs — namely, that she refused to wear pants.  More after the break.

Scottish Food and Laurinburg operate Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurants throughout North Carolina.  According to the Complaint, Sheila Silver (“Silver”) was an employee at Defendants’ various restaurants since 1992 and converted to Pentecostalism in 2010.  After her conversion, Silver refused to wear pants while at work, stating that her religion prevented women from wearing pants.  Defendants told Silver that she had to wear pants or she would be discharged.  When Silver refused, Defendants terminated her employment.

While Defendants have not yet filed a dispositive motion or an answer, this case raises issues as to the limits of religious rights (attire at work) and the conflict between accommodations and arguably legitimate employer policies.  It is likely that Defendants will argue that employee safety required wearing pants at the restaurant.  More to follow as this case develops.

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