According to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, Kroger will pay $180,000 in settling religious discrimination claims filed by two workers who objected to wearing an emblem to support the LGBTQ+ community.
The federal agency filed the lawsuit in 2020 on behalf of former employees of a Kroger store in Conway, Arkansas. Both were disciplined and eventually fired for refusing to wear an apron decorated with multicolored hearts, which they looked like a rainbow. pride flag, EEOC said in a news release last week. It added that Kroger denies allegations of religious discrimination.
Part of a marketing campaign launched in 2019 by the supermarket chain, the emblem specifically “does not have a rainbow and only incorporates four colors,” the supermarket chain said in the court filing.
The EEOC said that as part of the agreement, Kroger agreed to create a religious housing policy and increase its religious discrimination training to store managers.
The EEOC said in its lawsuit that Kroger made no effort to accommodate workers’ requests for religious exemptions, with one woman offering to wear an apron with the emblem covered and another offering to wear a different apron. , the agency said.
Delner-Franklin Thomas, the district director of the EEOC’s Memphis District Office, which has jurisdiction over parts of Arkansas, Tennessee and Mississippi, said at the time, “It is illegal to terminate employees for requesting accommodation for their religious beliefs. ” “The EEOC protects the rights of the LGBTQ community, but it also protects the rights of religious people.”
Kroger did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The company, which operates stores in 35 states, recently said it would merge with Albertsons to together employ more than 710,000 at 4,996 stores and other facilities.