A Muslim woman applied for a bus driver position with Greyhound Lines. During the interview, she told the interviewer that she would need to wear an ankle-length overgarment (abaya) as well as a headscarf to comply with her religious beliefs.
The interviewer told her Greyhound could accommodate her clothing requirements. However, the driver was later denied the ability to wear an abaya. Greyhound claimed that the overgarment posed a safety issue and requested that she wear pants with a knee-length skirt instead. The woman driver was forced to quit her new position since the company’s request violated her religious beliefs.
What went wrong?
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) requires companies to make reasonable accommodations for employees to match their religious needs as long as the accommodations do not cause the company undue hardship. In this case, the hiring manager told the driver that her required dress would be accommodated, however, the company failed to do so in practice.
Greyhound’s suggested knee-length skirt over pants violated the driver’s religious beliefs by showing the outline of her body.
Did Greyhound have a valid claim?
Greyhound considered the driver’s abaya to be a safety issue, but it is unclear that this is true. The driver successfully wore an abaya while earning her commercial drivers’ license and passing the Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration tests. The driver had also previously worked as a tractor-tailor driver for a full year while wearing an abaya.
Employers cannot discriminate based on religion
Employees should fully understand their workplace rights and not be prevented from fully practicing their religion. If an employer fails to provide reasonable accommodation for religious beliefs, employees should speak with their supervisor or Human Resources to discuss the issue and find a workable solution.