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UPS accused of religious discrimination due to appearance policy

Shipping giant UPS is under fire for allegedly violating Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 in regard to the way that it hires and promotes its employees. The company, which operates in Texas and all other states, is accused of religious discrimination because of its appearance policy. According to its policy, men who are in supervisory roles or who interact with customers are to keep their hair cut above the collar and their facial hair from extending past their lips.

The federal lawsuit was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. It alleges that the company does not make exceptions to its policies, even for people with religious circumstances. A man who applied to be a driver helper was purportedly told that if he did not shave his beard -- which he kept due to religious beliefs -- that he could apply for a lower paying position or look elsewhere for employment. A Rastafarian supervisor requested a religious accommodation to keep his long hair, but was allegedly told that by his manager that he didn't want any workers who looked like women as part of his management team.

The company contends that it respects different religious values and abides by the law. A UPS representative said in a statement that the company has protocols in place for workers who need religious accommodations. This includes those who need their work schedules altered for religious observances and appearance accommodations.

The EEOC filed a claim on behalf of the workers against UPS, accusing it of religious discrimination. According to the complaint, workers who have needed religious accommodations have not been promoted or hired since 2004 or earlier. Texas workers who feel that they were victimized on the job (or while applying for one) due to discrimination based on a protected status can choose to pursue legal recourse. Based on evidence of the discrimination alleged, the claimants may be awarded lost wages, monetary damages and/or other financial relief as well as possibly being reinstated to a former position, if applicable.

Source: Fortune, "UPS's no-beard policy hit with religious discrimination suit", Claire Zillman, July 15, 2015

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