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Publix Being Sued Over Dreadlocks

October 3, 2017

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is suing the supermarket chain for religious discrimination after a new hire claimed Publix asked him to cut his dreadlocks in order to work there, according to reports.

The man, who practices Rastafarianism, applied to work in a Publix in Nashville, but “reportedly had to quit before he started” because his religion doesn’t allow him to cut his hair.

The man apparently asked his manager if he could not cut his hair because of his religion and asked if he could wear his hair in a hat, according to the EEOC. “Management refused to allow the hat or any other reasonable accommodation, and he was forced to quit before his first day of work.”

Publix is known for having grooming requirements for men such as neat haircuts and no beards, according to reports.  

Publix said it does not comment on pending litigation, but did offer a response.

“At Publix, we value and appreciate the diversity of all of our associates,” the statement from Publix spokeswoman Maria Brous said. “We work to provide environments where known religious beliefs and practices of our associates and applicants are reasonably accommodated. As I’m sure you can understand, it would be inappropriate for us to comment specifically on this case, as it is pending litigation. However, please know that we are dedicated to the employment security of our associates and that we regularly provide accommodations to associates due to their religious beliefs, as required by law.”

Rastafarianism, an Abrahamic religion, requires adherents to not cut hair based on a line in the Old Testament’s Book of Numbers, which says with certain religious volunteers “not a razor shall come upon his head.”

When employers make decisions based on an employee’s or applicant’s religion, the employee may have cause to pursue legal action, as this case demonstrates. If you are being discriminated against in the workplace, you should always bring your problems and concerns to your employer’s attention first, this might be done through your human resources department or your union representative. In some cases, this is call it takes to resolve the issues. However, if your problems remain unresolved, or if you experience retaliation as a result of having complained, you should reach out to our Florida Discrimination Lawyers at Whittel & Melton as soon as possible. Our attorneys are licensed to practice in both federal and state courts and we will aggressively fight to protect your rights.

To find out more about how we may be able to help you, please call us today at 866-608-5529 and discuss your complaint with one of our employment attorneys, or contact us online to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation.