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Religious woman denied job for wearing long skirt

New York employers are required by law to accommodate their employees' religious practices as long as the accommodations do not interfere with business operations. One that employers may be asked to provide for their employees is an exception to the employee dress code. If employees wear religious garb to express their faith, they may be allowed to deviate from the standard company dress code.

In early November, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission filed a religious discrimination lawsuit on behalf of a Pentecostal woman in South Carolina who was discriminated against for wearing a long skirt. The woman was employed by a temporary staffing agency that attempted to place her in a job position at Akebono Brake Corp. The automotive parts manufacturer allegedly told the staffing agency not to place the woman in the job because she refused to wear pants, which was a company requirement, presumably for safety reasons.

The woman in the EEOC lawsuit has never worn pants in her life, and as an active member of the Apostolic Faith Church of God and True Holiness she is required to wear an ankle-length skirt every day. According to the EEOC, she sought an exception to Akebono's pants requirement, but the company never discussed the possibility of allowing the religious accommodation.

Many EEOC workplace discrimination lawsuits are filed on behalf of workers who were discriminated against for wearing religious garb. If accommodating a worker's religious preference does not cause an undue hardship to the company, then under federal law the company is required to make such an allowance. People who feel that they have been discriminated against in such a manner may want to meet with an attorney and discuss their situations.

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