Hair Salon Refused to Accommodate Stylist’s Sabbath
SAN FRANCISCO ? TheU.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) today filed a federal lawsuit charging Supercuts hair salon with religious discrimination for requiring a stylist employed at their Pleasant Hill, Calif. salon to work on her Sabbath and firing her when she refused to violate her religious beliefs.
Carolyn Sedar, a stylist and shift manager, observes Sabbath and does not work on Sundays. According to the EEOC’s lawsuit, Sedar started working for Supercuts in 1999 and store managers accommodated her religious beliefs until November 2008 when a new store manager scheduled Sedar for a Sunday shift. Sedar submitted three written complaints to and had several conversations with the store manager and district manager informing them that she could not work on her Sabbath. Supercuts refused to excuse Sedar from the Sunday schedule, even after she gave officials a copy of the EEOC’s guidance on religious discrimination. Supercuts terminated Sedar after she refused to work two consecutive Sundays.
“Working at Supercuts was my second career after retiring from the VA,” said Carolyn Sedar. “I enjoyed the camaraderie with my clients and co-workers and I took pride in making people feel good after I gave them a quality hair cut. The Bible says that I should not work on Sabbath and I could not violate that tenet even though my beliefs cost me a job that I loved.”
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 requires employers to provide reasonable accommodations to sincerely held religious beliefs of employees as long as the accommodations do not pose an undue hardship. The law also prohibits retaliation. The EEOC filed suit EEOC v. Supercuts Corporate Stores, Inc. (CV 104412 EDL) in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California after first attempting to reach a voluntary settlement. The suit seeks back pay and other monetary losses, compensatory and punitive damages for Sedar and appropriate injunctive relief to prevent any future discrimination.
EEOC San Francisco District Director Michael Baldonado noted, “The EEOC’s investigation found that Ms. Sedar worked for the company for nine years under several store managers who accommodated her Sabbath without incident. When a new manager scheduled Ms. Sedar to work on Sundays, she made every effort to inform Supercuts that its actions were unlawful. Now they are facing a lawsuit.”
" Employers who simply ignore requests for a religiousaccommodation are violating the law,” said EEOC San Francisco Regional Attorney William R. Tamayo. “Many of these requests can be handled easily. For example, Supercuts could have permitted Ms. Sedar to swap shifts with coworkers, as they had done already for almost a decade. Supercuts could not show that excusing Sedar from work on her Sabbath would impose an undue hardship.”
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 2100 locations. In August 2009, the EEOC’s Memphis District Office 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.