American Turban

AutoZone, Inc. settles for $75,000 in Sikh discrimination case

Frank Mahoney Burroughs (photo: bostonherald.com)

Frank MahoneyBurroughs (photo: bostonherald.com)

You may recall the case of automobile parts manufacturer AutoZone, who was sued by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission for employment discrimination directed towards Frank MahoneyBurroughs, a recent convert to Sikhism:

According to the EEOC’s lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Massachusetts in Boston (Civil Action No. 1:10-cv-11648), AutoZone managers at its Everett, Mass., location harassed MahoneyBurroughs by disparaging his religion, asking if he had joined Al-Qaeda and whether he was a terrorist. AutoZone also failed to intervene when customers referred to him as “Bin Laden” and made terrorist jokes. The EEOC also charged that AutoZone refused to let MahoneyBurroughs wear a religiously mandated turban and kara (a religious bracelet). Finally, the EEOC alleged that AutoZone terminated him because of his religion and in retaliation for asking for an accommodation and complaining about discrimination.

As many of these cases go, it has ended in a settlement; AutoZone has settled the case for $75,000 plus attorney fees, and further:

In addition to the monetary relief,  the decree requires AutoZone to adopt a policy prohibiting religious  discrimination; train its managers and human resource employees on religious  discrimination and the new policy; report to the EEOC on its handling of all  requests for religious accommodation and complaints of religious harassment;  distribute the new policy; and a notice regarding the consent decree to its  65,000 employees in more than 4,500 U.S. stores.

As significant as is the financial settlement, the decree is a huge step in terms of ensuring that AutoZone employees across the country are protected from employment discrimination based on religion.

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