Justice Dept.: Denial of Employee’s Request to Wear Skirts, Not Pants, Is Religious Discrimination

Posted on February 3, 2009 In Blog

The OU is delighted to see the possibility of a settlement to defend the rights of religiously observant employees. If approved, this case will set important precedents to help in the battle for fair and equitable treatment in the workplace, regardless of religious affiliation.

Washington – The Department of Justice announced today that it has entered into a settlement agreement with the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) that, if approved by the court, will resolve the complaint of pattern or practice religious discrimination filed by the United States against WMATA under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

The United States filed a complaint in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia in September 2008, alleging that WMATA violated Title VII by failing to reasonably accommodate and provide equal employment opportunities to employees and prospective employees whose religious practices require an accommodation from WMATA’s uniform policy for bus operators and similarly situated employees.

The United States also alleged that WMATA discriminated against Gloria Jones who applied and met all of the minimum qualifications for bus operator position, but could not comply for religious reasons with the portion of WMATA’s uniform policy that required bus operators to wear pants. At the start of the orientation process, Ms. Jones requested an accommodation that would allow her to wear a skirt instead of pants, consistent with her religious practice, who is a member of the Apostolic Pentecostal faith, along with the rest of the bus operator uniform. WMATA summarily denied her request for a religious accommodation and terminated the hiring process.

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