Ashanti McShan was 17 years old when she got a job at Burger King. But on her first day working there, a manager allegedly told the Dallas-area teenager to leave. Because of her Christian Pentecostal faith, McShan says, she had to wear a skirt instead of the restaurant uniform’s slacks, and the manager wasn’t having it, according to a religious discrimination lawsuit filed Wednesday by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
McShan says that she explained in her Burger King job interview in August 2010 that her religious beliefs require strict adherence to Scripture, which for her meant that as a female she had to wear skirts or dresses and never pants. It states in Deuteronomy 22:5: “The woman shall not wear that which pertaineth unto a man, neither shall a man put on a woman’s garment: for all that do so are abomination unto the Lord thy God.”
Her interviewer, a manager at the local franchisee, Fries Restaurant Management, purportedly told her that a skirt was completely fine, and hired her as a cashier. But when McShan showed up for orientation soon after at a Burger King in Grand Prairie, Texas, a different manager allegedly told her that the skirt was unacceptable and she had to leave.
McShan contacted her initial interviewer and another higher-up, but nobody ever called her back, according to Meaghan Shepard, the lead EEOC attorney on the case. “So she was left with nowhere to go, and no job.”
Under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, employers must accommodate the religious observances of their employees, as long as those accommodations are “reasonable” and don’t result in “undue hardship.”