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Press Release 12-20-2013

McDonald's Restaurants of California, Inc. Settles EEOC Religious Discrimination Lawsuit

Federal Agency Charged Muslim Trainer Was Constructively Discharged for Not Shaving Beard

FRESNO, Calif. - McDonald's Restaurants of California, Inc. will pay $50,000 and furnish other relief to settle a religious discrimination lawsuit by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency announced today.  

The EEOC had charged that a restaurant formerly owned by McDonald's in Fresno refused a request from a Muslim employee, a crew trainer, to grow a beard for religious reasons which lead to his constructive discharge in September 2005.  

Such alleged conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which requires that employers make reasonable accommodations to the sincerely held religious beliefs of employees and applicants as long as this causes no harm to the business.  The EEOC filed suit in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California (EEOC v. McDonald's Restaurants of California, Inc., Case No. 1:13-cv-02065AWI-SAB) after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. 

Aside from the monetary relief for the crew trainer, the two-year consent decree settling the suit provides that McDonald's will reinforce training of its managers and staff and redistribute its existing policies related to religious discrimination and accommodation.   

"We commend McDonald's for its commitment to training and ensuring that its staff and managers are well-versed on laws relating to religious discrimination," said Anna Y. Park, regional attorney for the EEOC's Los Angeles District Office.  "We hope other employers follow McDonald's lead in promoting training and development of extensive anti-discrimination policies." 

Melissa Barrios, director of the EEOC's Fresno Local Office, said, "Workers have the right to request an accommodation which would allow them to work while still practicing their religious beliefs.  Employers must consider such requests and ensure that no negative actions are taken against workers who exercise this right."  

The EEOC is the federal agency that enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination.  Further information about the EEOC is available on the agency's web site at