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The Kroger supermarket chain will pay $180,000 to settle a religious discrimination lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission for allegedly firing two employees who refused on religious grounds to wear an apron they believed supported gay rights.
The agency said in a statement Thursday that the Kroger Limited Partnership I, a subsidiary of the Cincinnati-based Kroger Co., allegedly disciplined and ultimately fired two employees in its Conway, Arkansas, store when they refused to wear an apron with the company’s “Our Promise” symbol because they believed it represented support for the LGBTQ+ community. Kroger denied the allegations.
The agency, which had filed suit against Kroger in U.S. District Court in Little Rock, Arkansas, said the parties decided to resolve the case with a consent decree to avoid additional costs and the uncertainties of litigation.
As part of the settlement, Kroger agreed to create a religious accommodation policy and provide enhanced religious discrimination training to store management, the statement said.
“The EEOC commends Kroger on its decision to create a policy describing the process for requesting a religious accommodation,” said Faye A. Williams, regional attorney of the EEOC’s Memphis, Tennessee district office, in a statement.
“This policy will provide guidelines for requesting religious accommodation. The parties in the case worked in good faith to resolve this matter, and the Commission is pleased with the resolution.”
Kroger did not respond to a request for comment.