The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is suing the supermarket chain for religious discrimination after a new hire claimed Publix asked him to cut his dreadlocks in order to work there, according to reports.
The man, who practices Rastafarianism, applied to work in a Publix in Nashville, but “reportedly had to quit before he started” because his religion doesn’t allow him to cut his hair.
The man apparently asked his manager if he could not cut his hair because of his religion and asked if he could wear his hair in a hat, according to the EEOC. “Management refused to allow the hat or any other reasonable accommodation, and he was forced to quit before his first day of work.”
Publix is known for having grooming requirements for men such as neat haircuts and no beards, according to reports.
Publix said it does not comment on pending litigation, but did offer a response.
“At Publix, we value and appreciate the diversity of all of our associates,” the statement from Publix spokeswoman Maria Brous said. “We work to provide environments where known religious beliefs and practices of our associates and applicants are reasonably accommodated. As I’m sure you can understand, it would be inappropriate for us to comment specifically on this case, as it is pending litigation. However, please know that we are dedicated to the employment security of our associates and that we regularly provide accommodations to associates due to their religious beliefs, as required by law.”
Rastafarianism, an Abrahamic religion, requires adherents to not cut hair based on a line in the Old Testament’s Book of Numbers, which says with certain religious volunteers “not a razor shall come upon his head.”