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EEOC, Burger King settle religious bias case for $25,000

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A Burger King franchisee that refused to let a Pentecostal Christian female employee wear a skirt instead of trousers on the job has settled an Equal Employment Opportunity religious discrimination lawsuit for $25,000, the agency said Wednesday.

According to the lawsuit filed in August in federal district court in Dallas in EEOC v. Fries Restaurant Management L.L.C., when Ashanti McShan was hired as a cashier at the Grand Prairie, Texas, Burger King in August 2010, she had asked to wear a skirt instead of uniform pants as a religious accommodation. Ms. McShan is a member of the Christian Pentecostal Church, a denomination that requires women to wear only skirts or dresses, according to the lawsuit.

She was assured she could wear a skirt to work, but when she arrived for her orientation, store management told her she could not do so and she was told to leave the store.

The lawsuit charged Fries Restaurant with violating Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 by failing to accommodate Ms. McShan’s religious beliefs.

In addition to paying Ms. McShan the $25,000 settlement, the consent decree settling the suit requires the company to provide training to district and general managers in its Texas Burger King franchise, and to post a notice of nondiscrimination for the two years the decree is in effect.

“I commend this employer for its willingness to enter an early settlement. There did not appear to be a general policy by the franchisee in this case that would filter out other job seekers who share similar beliefs to this applicant,” Janet Elizondo, director of the Dallas District Office, said in a statement.

A spokesman for the franchisee could not immediately be reached for comment.