Illinois Security Company Fined $70K for Telling Muslim Employee to Shave Beard

February 1, 2024

Blackwell Security Services, Inc. will pay $70,000 and provide other relief to settle a religious discrimination lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the federal agency announced today.

The EEOC charged in its suit that Blackwell refused to accommodate an employee’s religious practice, needlessly forcing him to choose between his religion and his livelihood. According to the EEOC’s lawsuit, the employee, who worked as a concierge in Chicago, Illinois, is a practicing Muslim who wears a beard in observance of his religious beliefs. Soon after he was hired, he was told by a Blackwell supervisor that it was company policy that all employees be clean-shaven.

The employee requested an exemption from the policy to accommodate his religious practice. However, Blackwell told him to shave his beard or be terminated, even though accommodating his religious practice would impose no cost or operational burden on the business. To avoid losing his job, the employee complied and shaved his beard, causing him significant distress.

This alleged conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits discrimination based on religion and requires employers to reasonably accommodate an employee’s religious observance or practice, unless an accommodation would impose an undue hardship. The EEOC filed suit in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois (Civil Action No.1:23-cv-14110), after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.

Source: EEOC

Topics Illinois

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