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Feds Sue Restaurant Over Dress Code Policy For Waitresses

A waitress in Mississippi says she lost her job for insisting on wearing a skirt instead of pants.

The Washington Post reported that the woman, Kaetoya Watkins, cited her Christian faith as her reason for defying the Georgia Blue restaurant’s clothing policy. The federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has filed suit against the business, accusing it of religious discrimination.

The lawsuit states that when Watkins got the job in 2015, in the Jackson suburb of Flowood, Miss., she was unaware of the dress code. It was not until she was about to begin work that she learned about the restaurant’s blue jeans requirement.

She told the manager that her beliefs as an Apostolic Pentecostal Christian “prevented her from wearing pants,” according to the suit.

Watkins claims the manager ignored her offer to don a blue jean skirt and then sent her home when she wore it to work. The following day, she got a voice mail message from the manager informing her that the restaurant chain’s owner “would not stray away from” the dress code by allowing the skirt.

Watkins decided to quit the job instead of complying with the policy.

The lawsuit declares that “Georgia Blue LLC discriminated against Kaetoya Watkins by failing to reasonably accommodate her religious beliefs and practices, and denying her employment by rescinding its job offer or terminating her because of her religion.” The chain has eateries in four locations, as well as a bakery, in Mississippi. The company also sells its own line of vodka, salad dressings and other items.

The business released a written statement explaining that it was “disappointed to learn of the lawsuit.” The statement continued: “Georgia Blue is an equal-opportunity employer and does not discriminate on any basis, including religious practices.”

The Post pointed out that the 1964 Civil Rights Act mandates that employers must “provide reasonable religious accommodation” to their workers. The EEOC argues that because Georgia Blue violated the requirement, it should pay lost wages to Watkins.

The agency also is seeking an injunction to force Georgia Blue to change its policy.

“Under federal law, employers have a duty to provide an accommodation to allow an employee to practice his or her religion when the employer can do so without undue hardship on the operation of the company,” Delner Franklin-Thomas, district director of the EEOC’s Birmingham District office, wrote in a statement. “This case shows the EEOC is committed to combating religious discrimination in the workplace.”

Apostolic Pentecostal Christians generally wear long skirts, according to an expert who described the religion as “the most conservative” Pentecostal denomination.

“It’s expressive worship compared to the more sedate worship of mainline Protestant churches,” he said. The term “Apostolic,” which refers to Jesus Christ’s 12 apostles, is based on Christian beliefs in the first century AD.

The sect has more than 4 million followers, who practice water baptisms and other traditional methods. They consider the Bible the word of God.

The church’s government structure features apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, teachers, elders and deacons, according to Wikipedia.

Source: Washington Post, WKRG
Photoz: Facebook, Google

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