Massachusetts readers may be aware that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prevents employers from discriminating against employees based on their religion as well as other statuses protected under this law. UPS is being accused by some of its workers and applicants that it will not budge when it comes to its appearance policy. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has filed a workplace discrimination claim on behalf of the affected people.
According to the complaint, UPS has an appearance policy that states that the workers who are going to be dealing with the public or are in supervisory roles are to keep their hair above the collar. They are also required to keep their facial hair trimmed so that it does not go past their lips. Those who have facial hair because of their sincerely held religious beliefs have allegedly not been given an accommodation. Employees and applicants who have not met the appearance policy requirements have apparently not been promoted or hired since 2004.
A man who kept a beard because of his religious beliefs had applied to be a driver helper. He was told that he would be required to shave his beard if he wanted the position and if he refused, he could apply for a lower paying position. A Rastafarian man in a supervisory role had allegedly inquired about keeping his hair long because of his religious beliefs. His manager had purportedly told him that that he did not want any of his members of management to look like women. These instances, as well as others like it, were all part of the EEOC's claim.
UPS contends that it respects the religious beliefs of others and that it is in compliance with the law and has given religious accommodations to those who need it. The EEOC has tried to agree to a settlement before filing the workplace discrimination claim but was unsuccessful. As part of the lawsuit, the EEOC would like for UPS to amend its practices in regards to religious accommodations as well as provide damages and lost wages to the people involved. Massachusetts employees who feel that they have been the victims of discrimination on the job, or while applying for one, can consider taking legal actions.
Source: Fortune, "UPS's no-beard policy hit with religious discrimination suit", Claire Zillman, July 15, 2015