OAKLAND, Calif. – Salon chain Supercuts has agreed to pay $43,500 and to implement preventive measures to settle a religious accommodation and retaliation lawsuit, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) announced today.
According to the EEOC, Carolyn Sedar had been employed as a stylist and shift manager for Supercuts in Pleasant Hill, Calif. Since 1999, store managers accommodated her observance of her Christian Sabbath by permitting her not to work on Sundays until November 2008, when a new store manager scheduled Sedar for a Sunday shift. Despite written and oral requests to managers informing them that she could not work on her Sabbath, Supercuts refused to excuse Sedar and terminated her after she refused to work on two consecutive Sundays.
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 requires employers to accommodate the sincerely held religious beliefs of employees, as long as the accommodations are reasonable and do not create an undue hardship. The law also prohibits retaliation against employees. The EEOC filed suit (EEOC v. Supercuts Corporate Stores, Inc. CV 104412 RS in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California) after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.
The court-approved consent decree in this case provides, among other things, training of managers and employees about religious accommodation under Title VII, providing reports to the EEOC of all requests for religious accommodation at a number of its salons, and posting a notice at the salons addressing religious accommodation in the workplace.
San Francisco Regional Attorney William R. Tamayo noted, “No one should be forced to choose between sincerely held religious beliefs and a job. This settlement allows Ms. Sedar to move on with her life, and the training provisions in the decree will hopefully prevent such problems from arising in the future.”
“When there is a conflict between religion and workplace practices, solutions can often be low or no cost, if you approach it flexibly and creatively,” said San Francisco District Office Director, Michael Baldonado. “Don’t leave your supervisors and management in doubt about how to respond to a request for accommodation. Make it clear that failing to accommodate sincerely held religious beliefs may put the company in violation of the law.”
Supercuts is owned by Regis Corporation (NYSE:RGS), which operates salons worldwide under the trade names Supercuts, Regis Salons, MasterCuts, SmartStyle, Cost Cutters and Sassoon. According to the company websites, www.regiscorp.com and www.supercuts.com, Regis owned, franchised or held ownership interest in over 12,700 locations worldwide and the Supercuts salon chain has 2,100 locations. In August 2009, the EEOC’s Memphis District Office also settled a lawsuit against Regis Corp. doing business as Smartstyle for failing to accommodate an employee who observed Sabbath on Sundays.
The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about the EEOC is available on its web site at www.eeoc.gov.