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PRESS RELEASE
11-23-11

Imperial Security Will Pay $50,000 To Settle EEOC Religious Discrimination Lawsuit

Security Company Fired Employee for Wearing Religious Head Scarf, Federal Agency Charged

PHILADELPHIA  – A Philadelphia-area security company will pay $50,000 and furnish significant  equitable relief to settle a federal religious discrimination lawsuit, the  Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) announced today.

The EEOC charged that Imperial Security, Inc. failed to  accommodate the religious beliefs of Julie Holloway-Russell, who is  Muslim, and terminated her instead. Holloway-Russell  wore a khimar, religious garb which  covers her hair, ears, and neck, as required by her religious beliefs, when she  interviewed for the job of security guard. However, when she reported to her  first work assignment wearing her khimar,  she was told to remove it.  Holloway-Russell respectfully refused to do so because her religious  beliefs mandated that she wear the religious head covering.

The EEOC  charged that by failing to modify its dress code to allow Holloway-Russell to  wear her khimar and instead  terminating her, the company violated federal law.

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964  prohibits discrimination based on religion and requires an employer to  reasonably accommodate an employee’s religious beliefs, including modifying  dress codes, unless doing so would pose an undue hardship. The EEOC first attempted to reach a  pre-litigation settlement before filing suit in United States District Court  for the District of Pennsylvania, Civil Action No. 2:10-CV-04733.

In addition to  the monetary relief to Holloway-Russell, the three-year consent decree  resolving the lawsuit contains important remedial relief, including prohibiting  Imperial Security from further discriminating based on religion or engaging in  unlawful retaliation. Imperial Security  will designate an EEO officer who will receive complaints of discrimination or  retaliation and revise its employee handbook to permit accommodation of  religious beliefs. The company will establish  a procedure for handling any complaints of discrimination and a disciplinary  policy for any employee who engages in discriminatory or retaliatory  behavior. The company will also provide  annual training on Title VII to all employees, report to the EEOC regarding how  it handled any complaints of religious discrimination or retaliation, and post  a remedial notice.

“The 21st  century workplace is increasingly diverse,” said EEOC District Director Spencer  H. Lewis, Jr. “The resolution of this  lawsuit should remind all companies of their legal obligation to provide a  reasonable accommodation of an employee’s religious beliefs.”

Regional  Attorney Debra Lawrence of the EEOC’s Philadelphia District Office, which  oversees Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Delaware, Maryland, and parts of New  Jersey and Ohio, added, “We are pleased with this settlement. In addition to the monetary relief, the  settlement provides significant measures, including the naming of an EEO  officer and the adoption of policies and procedures to address discrimination  complaints. These injunctive measures  should benefit all employees.”

The EEOC enforces federal laws  prohibiting employment discrimination. Further  information about the EEOC is available on its web site at www.eeoc.gov.