- An Arkansas federal judge ordered Kroger to pay two former employees $180,000.
- They were fired from the store after refusing to wear an apron with a “multicolored heart,” court documents show.
- “Both have sincerely held religious beliefs that homosexuality is a sin and that they cannot support or promote it,” the judge wrote.
Kroger has to pay $180,000 to two former employees who were fired after they refused to wear a company apron with a phrase that they considered to be an LGBTQ+ symbol after a lawsuit.
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission filed a lawsuit on behalf of the two employees who were disciplined and ultimately fired from their jobs at a Kroger in Conway, Arkansas. The lawsuit was filed on behalf of Brenda Lawson and Trudy Rickerd on September 14, 2020, in Eastern Arkansas District court, according to court documents.
Rickerd and Lawson alleged that Kroger failed to provide religious accommodations for them when they were asked to wear an apron with a “multicolored heart on it.”
“Defendant Employer refused to consider Lawson’s request for a religious accommodation for her sincerely held religious belief,” the lawsuit says. “Defendant Employer continued to discipline Lawson for her failure to follow the dress code by wearing the apron that was contrary to her sincerely held religious belief.”
The lawsuit requested backpay for Rickerd and Lawson and asked for punitive damages and asked Kroger to “institute and carry out policies, practices, and programs which provide equal employment opportunities for Lawson and Rickerd.”
On Wednesday, U.S. District Judge Lee Rodofsky, who was appointed by former President Donald Trump in July 2019, ordered Kroger Limited Partnership to $180,000 to Rickerd and Lawson and “provide reasonable accommodations to employees who have sincere religious objections to Kroger’s dress code,” court documents show. Rudofsky also ordered the company to create a religious accommodation policy and new employee training.
Rudofsky wrote in the order that Rickerd and Lawson “both have sincerely held religious beliefs that homosexuality is a sin and that they cannot support or promote it.”
Kroger did not immediately return Insider’s request for comment on Saturday.
The EEOC said in a statement that Kroger had agreed to create a religious accommodation policy and give store management more religious discrimination training.
“This policy will provide guidelines for requesting religious accommodation,” Faye A. Williams, regional attorney of the EEOC’s Memphis District Office said in the statement. “The parties in the case worked in good faith to resolve this matter, and the Commission is pleased with the resolution.”