The US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission said Friday it has filed a lawsuit against emergency transportation companies for discrimination and retaliation against applicants and employees who wear beards.
The EEOC said it filed suit against Greenwood Village, Colo.-based Global Medical Response Inc., its unit of American Medical Response Inc. and AMR subsidiaries for discrimination and retaliation against people with sincerely held religious beliefs and disabilities that required them to wear beard in conflicts. with the companies policy against facial hair.
The EEOC said in a lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in Denver that EMT and paramedic applicants and employees had requested accommodations since at least December 2018 to be allowed to wear facial hair, but GMR and AMR argued their respirators would not fit properly if the employee has facial hair.
The EEOC said GMR and AMR denied the applicants and employees the use of a respirator that would have allowed them to maintain their facial hair and perform their jobs safely.
The agency said because of the policy, some were forced to shave in violation of their religious beliefs or doctors’ orders to keep their jobs, while others who did not want to shave or complained that their rights were being violated were fired.
The companies are accused of violating the Americans with Disabilities Act and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The agency is seeking back and back pay, compensatory and punitive damages, as well as an injunction to prevent future discrimination.
Darrell Graham, EEOC district director in Atlanta, said in a statement that GMR and AMR operate one of the largest medical transportation companies in the country.
GMR did not respond to a request for comment.