Firing workers for not complying with dress code could be religious bias. Expert advice how to avoid lawsuit and heavy charges


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Two employees at a Kroger grocery store in Arkansas were informed they’d need to wear an embroidered rainbow heart logo on their uniforms. The workers, believing the rainbow heart represented support for the LGBTQ community, refused to comply with the dress code.

They cited their sincerely held religious beliefs that homosexuality is a sin.

The employees requested a religious accommodation, wanting to cover the rainbow heart with a name tag. Kroger refused to accommodate the employees, and when they still wouldn’t wear the logo, the workers were fired.

The EEOC filed a suit against Kroger on the employees’ behalf, citing a violation of the Civil Rights Act. The case is pending.

The EEOC’s complaint calls for the company to provide compensation for the fired employees, for “emotional pain and suffering, humiliation and inconvenience.

Expert advice on how to avoid these types of charges.

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Speaker: Ronald Adler, CEO, Laurdan Associates Inc

Ronald Adler is the president-CEO of Laurdan Associates, Inc., a veteran-owned, human resource management consulting firm in Rockville, Md., specializing in HR audits, employment practices risk management, benchmarking and HR metrics, strategic HR, employee surveys, and unemployment insurance issues. Mr. Adler has more than 42 years of HR consulting experience working with U.S. and international firms, small businesses and non-profits, insurance companies and brokers, and employer organizations. Mr. Adler is a consulting expert on workforce, employment practices, and unemployment insurance issues to Bloomberg BNA, HR Magazine, and other publications and newspapers across the country. His research findings have been used by the Federal Reserve Board, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the National Conference of State Legislatures, the National Association of Manufacturers, the National Federation of Independent Business, insurers, and international organizations.

Mr. Adler is the developer of the Employment-Labor Law Audit™ (ELLA®), the nation's leading HR auditing and employment practices risk assessment tool, and is a frequent lecturer and author on HR management and workplace issues. As an adjunct professor at Villanova University, Mr. Adler teaches graduate courses on HR auditing. He is also a certified instructor on employment practices and insurance issues for The CPCU Society, has conducted continuing professional education courses for the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants on "Assessing Employment and Personnel Policies," and has conducted continuing professional education courses for SHRM, the Institute of Internal Auditors, and the Institute of Management Consultants.

As a member of the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), Mr. Adler has served as a subject matter expert (SME) to SHRM on HR metrics and formerly served on SHRM's Human Capital Measurement/HR Metrics Special Expertise Panel. He has also served as a consulting expert on workplace issues to SHRM's legislative staff, has contributed materials for The SHRM Academy and the SHRM Learning System, and has represented SHRM in meetings with the EEOC.

Mr. Adler has also served as an appointee to the State of Maryland Legislative UI Committee. Additionally, he belongs to the Institute of Internal Auditors, chaired the Maryland Chamber of Commerce's UI Subcommittee and served as a member of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce's Labor Relations Committee.

Mr. Adler holds a bachelor's degree in finance from the University of Maryland and an M.B.A. degree from Southern Illinois University.


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