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Press Release 03-10-2010

Pollard Agency Sued By EEOC For Religious Discrimination

Security Company Fired Woman Because of Mennonite Head Scarf, Agency Charged

ATLANTA – The Pollard  Agency, a Fruithurst, Ala.-based contract security company, unlawfully  discriminated against an employee because of her religion, the U.S. Equal  Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit it filed on March  8, 2010.

According  to the EEOC's suit, the Pollard Agency violated federal law by firing Marian  Lawson from a client location in Monticello, Ga., rather than  accommodating her beliefs as a Mennonite Baptist that she cover her hair with a  scarf. The EEOC said that Lawson was  fired when Pollard insisted that, as a condition of her continued employment, Lawson  remove and refrain from wearing her head scarf on the job. Lawson attempted to explain to her employer  that her religion required her to wear the headscarf, the EEOC said, but  Pollard refused to provide a reasonable accommodation and terminated her for  refusing to comply with the company's dress code.

Religious  discrimination violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which  requires employers to make reasonable accommo­dations for employees' and  applicants' sincerely held religious beliefs as long as this does not pose an  undue hardship on the business. The EEOC  is seeking back pay and compensatory and punitive damages for Lawson. The lawsuit also seeks injunctive relief  designed to stop and prevent future discrimination.

"Title  VII protects employees from having to make the difficult choice between their  religious beliefs and their employment," said Robert Dawkins, regional attorney  for the EEOC's Atlanta District Office. "The  EEOC is committed to enforcing anti-discrimination law and protecting the  religious rights of employees."

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