An ultra-Orthodox man is suing a Florida McDonald’s, claiming the fast-food giant violated his freedom of religion when it refused to hire him because of his beard.
The plaintiff, who sued Wednesday, is represented by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in his claim against a McDonald’s restaurant in Longwood, Florida that turned down his 2016 application to be a maintenance worker there, according to local news reports.
Management told him that he would have to shave his long beard if he wanted the job, the suit alleges. According to the suit, McDonald’s policy requires all male employees to be clean-shaven.
The plaintiff claims he offered to wear a beard net instead, but the manager wouldn’t accept the compromise. Instead, he reportedly told the man he couldn’t be hired if he was going to violate McDonald’s company policy.
The lawsuit seeks back wages for the past three years he would have been employed.
McDonald’s franchisees can set their own grooming policies. Federal law says an employer may bar an employee’s religious dress or beard only if the practice poses an undue hardship on the operation of the business, and no accommodation can be found.
Chalfont & Associates, which owns the Longwood franchises, did not respond to requests for comment by the Miami Herald.