The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission

PRESS RELEASE
8-7-09

REGIS CORPORATION / SMARTSTYLE SETTLES EEOC RELIGIOUS DISCRIMINATION LAWSUIT

Stylist Fired Because of Refusal to Work on Sabbath, Federal Agency Charged

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Regis Corporation, doing business as SmartStyle, will pay $26,250 and provide other relief to settle a religious discrimination lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency announced today.

The EEOC’s suit (No. 3:08-0821, filed in U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee) had charged that Regis refused to reasonably accommodate stylist Kaneika Ramsey’s sincerely held religious belief that she could not work on Sunday. When Ramsey advised Regis of her religious belief and requested an accommodation, the EEOC said, Regis ignored the request and fired her from her job at a Murfreesboro, Tenn., SmartStyle.

Refusing to reasonably accommodate an employee’s sincerely held religious belief, absent undue hardship on the employer, violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The EEOC filed suit after first attempting to reach a voluntary settlement out of court.

Besides providing monetary relief, the two-year consent decree settling the suit, signed by Judge Aleta Trauger on Aug. 6, 2009, requires Regis to amend its employee handbook to provide specific instructions for obtaining religious accommodation, and amend its management handbook to provide specific instructions for granting religious accommodation. The decree also mandates a number of record-keeping, posting and reporting requirements on religious accommodations, and requires training of management and hourly employees on Title VII’s requirements regarding religious discrimination and accommodation.

“Ignoring an employee’s request for religious accommodation doesn’t make it go away,” said Faye Williams, regional attorney for the EEOC’s Memphis District Office, which has jurisdiction over Tennessee, Arkansas, and 17 counties in northern Mississippi. “This settlement demonstrates the EEOC’s commitment to enforcement of the accommodation provisions of Title VII and offers an opportunity for Regis to ensure that its work force understands the company’s obligations.”

According to its web site, Minneapolis-based Regis Corporation is a global leader in beauty salons, hair restoration and cosmetology education. It owns, franchises, or holds ownership interests in over 12,800 worldwide locations.

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


This page was last modified on August 7, 2009.

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