A Texas teen says she was fired from Burger King because she wore a skirt as part of the restaurant’s uniform, instead of pants.
Ashanti McShan says her manager signed off on her request to wear a skirt on the job, in compliance with her beliefs as a Pentecostal Christian, but when she showed up to work at the fast food joint in Grand Prairie, Texas, she was told it was pants-only and she would have to go.
A lawsuit, filed Wednesday by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), against the local franchise operator accuses the chain of unlawful employment practices for failing to respect Ms McShan’s religious beliefs.
Ms McShan was a 17-year-old high school senior just looking to get a summer job in August 2010, when she applied to work as a cashier at the restaurant. Burger King employees wear black pants with a store-issued Burger King shirt when serving customers and during her interview for the spot, she says she was forthright about her beliefs and asked to wear a black skirt instead.
She is a part of the Christian Pentecostal denomination, whose members adhere to Old Testament guidelines from Deuteronomy 22:5 that states: 'A woman must not wear men’s clothing, nor a man wear women’s clothing, for the LORD your God detests anyone who does this.' Pentecostals apply this to mean women should not wear pants and should also not cut their hair, to distinguish their appearance from men.
Her manager 'assured her that she could wear a skirt to work,' according to the EEOC lawsuit filed on her behalf, against Fries Restaurant Management. 'However, when she arrived at work for orientation, the store management informed Ms McShan that she could not wear a skirt and that she had to leave the store.'
'Ms McShan was required to leave despite her explanation that she was wearing the skirt with the understanding that she would be allowed a religious accommodation,' the filing added.
The lawsuit alleges her manager failed to accommodate her request to comply with her religious guidelines for dress. Burger King, the second-largest U.S. hamburger chain, did not respond to a request to comment about the lawsuit filed against the franchise operator.
'It was a very simple request - to be able to wear a long black skirt and not black pants, and it was initially granted,' EEOC attorney Meaghan Shepard told the Dallas Morning News.
'She was responsible, tried to get in touch with someone higher in the franchise, and they never responded to her. In our eyes, it was so clear-cut. She’s a very sweet, articulate young lady who was just trying to work her senior year in high school,' Shepard added.