Kroger is facing a lawsuit after it fired two employees for refusing to wear a pro-LGBT apron as part of their work uniform because it violated their religious beliefs.
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission filed a lawsuit against the grocery store chain after a location in Conway, Arkansas, fired two employees for refusing to follow a new dress code that required them to wear an apron with a rainbow-colored heart emblem.
The two women said that wearing the apron was an endorsement of the LGBT movement, which went against their religious beliefs.
"One woman offered to wear the apron with the emblem covered and the other offered to wear a different apron without the emblem, but the company made no attempt to accommodate their requests," the EEOC said.
One woman, Brenda Lawson, had worked in the store from 2011 until her termination in June of 2019. The other woman, Trudy Ricker, had worked for Kroger from 2006 until she was fired in May of 2019.
The EEOC said that Kroger "retaliated" against the women by "disciplining and ultimately discharging them," adding that Kroger's actions violated Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act.
"Companies have an obligation under Title VII to consider requests for religious accommodations, and it is illegal to terminate employees for requesting an accommodation for their religious beliefs," said Delner-Franklin Thomas, district director of the EEOC's Memphis office, which is overseeing the case. "The EEOC protects the rights of the LGBTQ community, but it also protects the rights of religious people."
? Kroger has previously been subject to a lawsuit from the EEOC, when it had to pay $40,000 to settle a disability discrimination lawsuit after a visually impaired employee requested accommodation during a training.