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AutoZone To Sikh Employee: You Cannot Wear A Turban

An AutoZone employee who’d converted to the Sikh religion suffered employment discrimination when he was told he could not wear a turban and a kara, as required by his religion, while working. He was also taunted about being a terrorist or whether he’d joined Al Qaeda by both management and customers.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) filed a religious discrimination lawsuit against AutoZone on the employee’s behalf. AutoZone, a U.S. retailer and supplier of auto parts, agreed to pay $75,000 to end the lawsuit. A judge ruled in favor of the Sikh employee on the claim that AutoZone failed to accommodate the requirements of his religion in January. AutoZone then chose not to fight the remaining harassment and discrimination claims.

Among the claims in the discrimination lawsuit were wrongful termination, failure to accommodate and retaliation for complaining about the religious discrimination.

In addition to the money judgment, AutoZone must also create and implement a company-wide policy to prevent religious discrimination. The policy must include training for all managers as well as all human resources employees on how to prevent discrimination and harassment based on religion and what to do when a religious discrimination claim is made. The auto parts retailer must report back to the EEOC any future religious discrimination claims as well as how the company handles future requests for religious accommodation.

AutoZone employees throughout the U.S. should expect to see a notice regarding the settlement and the agreement with the EEOC regarding future instances of discrimination in the workplace. Employees are protected from discrimination and harassment in the workplace based on their religion by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act.

Source: Human Resources Journal, “AutoZone Settles Religious Discrimination Suit with $75,000,” April 2, 2012

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