Raleigh Company Unlawfully Fired Rastafarian Because He Refused to Remove His Religious Head Covering, Federal Agency Charges
RALEIGH, N.C. – Triangle Catering, LLC, a catering and event planning company based in Raleigh, violated federal law by failing to accommodate an employee’s religious beliefs and fired him because of his religion, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) alleged in a lawsuit filed today.
The EEOC says Michael Reddick, Jr. had been a practicing Rastafarian for more than 15 years. As a Rastafarian, Reddick holds the sincere religious belief that he must keep his head covered to prevent his spiritual energy from escaping into the atmosphere. In accordance with this belief, Reddick wears a small cap, which he refers to as a “crown,” to cover his head. Reddick was hired as a delivery driver on December 2013. Shortly after he was hired, the company informed Reddick that he would have to remove his head covering while working for the company. Reddick told Triangle Catering that he could not remove his head covering because of his religious beliefs. The company ultimately fired Reddick for refusing to remove his head covering.
Such alleged conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which requires employers to attempt to make reasonable accommodations to the sincerely held religious beliefs of employees as long as doing so poses no undue hardship. The EEOC filed suit in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina (EEOC v. Triangle Catering, LLC, Civil Action No. 5:15cv00016) after first attempting to reach a voluntary settlement through its conciliation process. The EEOC seeks back pay, compensatory damages and punitive damages for Reddick, as well as injunctive relief.
“No person should be forced to choose between his religion and his job when the company can provide an accommodation without suffering an undue hardship,” said Lynette A. Barnes, regional attorney for the EEOC’s Charlotte District Office, which includes the EEOC’s Raleigh Area Office, where the charge was filed. “This case demonstrates the EEOC’s continued commitment to fighting religious discrimination in the workplace.”
The EEOC is responsible for enforcing federal laws prohibiting discrimination in employment. Further information about the EEOC is available on its web site at www.eeoc.gov