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Versant Supply Chain and AT&T Engaged in Religious Discrimination, EEOC Charges

Companies' Written Policies Prohibited Employees Who Wore Hijabs From Working in AT&T Warehouse, Federal Agency Charges

MEMPHIS -- Versant Supply Chain, Inc., a logistics company based in Memphis, and AT&T Services, Inc., a Dallas-based communications, media and entertainment, and technology company, violated federal law by promulgating and enforcing dress code policies, which interfere with employees' religious rights, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit filed today.

According to the EEOC's lawsuit, Versant's and AT&T's policies prohibit employees from wearing any head coverings (except knit caps). The policy fails to make an exception or consider an accommodation for employees who wear head coverings such as hijabs for religious reasons.

Since at least August 2015, pursuant to that policy, Versant and AT&T have required Versant employees assigned to work in AT&T's warehouse to remove their hijabs before work. If an employee refused to remove her hijab, Versant and AT&T would not allow her to work in AT&T's warehouse. Versant and AT&T refused to consider an employee's offer to modify her hijab in a manner that would meet the standards of the dress code policies and still allow the employee to adhere to her religious beliefs.

Such alleged conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of religion. The EEOC filed suit (EEOC v. Versant Supply Chain, Inc. and AT&T Services, Inc., Civil Action No. 2:18-cv-02670) in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Tennessee, Western Division, after first attempting to reach a voluntary pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. The agency's Memphis District Office investigated the charge of discrimination.

"Versant's and AT&T's uncompromising positions in this case show a disregard for the law," said Delner Franklin-Thomas, district director of the EEOC's Memphis District Office, which has jurisdiction over Arkansas, Tennessee and portions of Mississippi. "Such behavior cannot be tolerated, especially in a religiously diverse society. The EEOC will continue to hold employers responsible for unlawful actions such as these."

The EEOC advances opportunity in the workplace by enforcing federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. More information is available at Stay connected with the latest EEOC news by subscribing to our email updates.