McDonald's in Florida refused to hire Jewish man because of his beard, lawsuit says

The store was looking to hire Morteza Javadi for a part-time maintenance job in September 2016, but only if he shaved, according to the U.S. Equal Employ­ment Opportunity Commission lawsuit.

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By David K. Li

A McDonald's in central Florida discriminated against a Hasidic Jewish job applicant, by refusing to hire him because of his beard, a federal agency said in a lawsuit this week.

The U.S. Equal Employ­ment Opportunity Commission filed the suit against Chalfont & Associates Group, owner of the McDonald's in Longwood, Florida, just north of Orlando.

That McDonald's store wanted to hire Morteza Javadi for a part-time maintenance job in September 2016, but only if he shaved off his beard, according to the EEOC lawsuit filed Tuesday.

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"During his interview, the hiring manager told the applicant he would be hired, but needed to shave his beard to comply with McDonald's grooming policy," according to an EEOC statement.

"The applicant told the hiring manager he would not shave his beard due to his religious beliefs. The applicant offered to wear a beard net as a solution, but was denied."

The management's refusal to hire the man violates federal statutes which prohibit dis­crimination based on religion, according to the agency. The law also "requires employers to reasonably accommodate an applicant's or employee's sincerely held religious beliefs, unless it poses an undue hardship," the EEOC said.

"The fact that McDonald's has grooming policies does not exempt them from following the law," EEOC Regional Attorney Robert Weisberg said in a statement.

"McDonald's was aware the applicant could not shave his beard for religious reasons, but refused to accommodate his religious beliefs. Employers should never force applicants to choose between their sincerely held religious beliefs, which can be reasonably accommodated, and earning a living."

Representatives for Chalfont & Associates Group and McDonald's could not be immediately reached for comment Thursday.

The EEOC is suing for back pay with interest, out-of-pocket costs for the plaintiff and punitive damages.