In 2020, a Kroger grocery store in Arkansas fired two Christian employees who refused to wear a rainbow-colored heart emblem on the bib of their aprons, which they believed symbolized support for homosexuality. They’d asked for a religious accommodation. Kroger refused. The employees offered compromises. Kroger refused.
The fired workers filed a complaint with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). The commission filed a lawsuit and offered to settle with the company. Kroger refused. The company apparently preferred to argue in a court of law that it has a right to discriminate against Christian employees.
I predicted then that Kroger would end up on the losing side, and that’s exactly what happened. The EEOC announced that Kroger Limited Partnership will pay $180,000 to settle the lawsuit.
According to the EEOC’s lawsuit, Kroger Limited Partnership I engaged in religious discrimination when it disciplined and ultimately fired the employees for refusing to wear an apron with the company’s “Our Promise” symbol because they believed it represented support for the LGBTQ+ community. Kroger denies the allegations.
In addition to the money, Kroger will create a religious accommodation policy for employees and “provide enhanced religious discrimination training to store management.”
Federal law protects Americans from religious discrimination, whether the violation is in the form of a law or an action on the part of a business owner. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 bars employment discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, and national origin.
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