The Kroger supermarket chain will pay $180,000 to settle a religious discrimination lawsuit filed by the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission for firing two employees who religiously refused to wear an apron they believed supported gay rights.
The agency said in a statement Thursday that Kroger Limited Partnership I, a subsidiary of Cincinnati-based Kroger Co., allegedly disciplined and ultimately fired two employees at its Conway, Arkansas store when they refused to wear an apron emblazoned with the company’s “Our pledge” symbol because they believed it represented support for the LGBTQ+ community. Kroger denied the allegations.
The agency, which had filed suit against Kroger in US District Court in Little Rock, Arkansas, said the parties decided to settle the case with a consent decree to avoid additional costs and the uncertainty of litigation.
As part of the settlement, Kroger agreed to create a religious accommodation policy and provide improved religious discrimination training to store management, the statement said.
“The EEOC commends Kroger for its decision to create a policy that outlines the process for requesting a religious accommodation,”; Faye A. Williams, regional attorney for the EEOC’s Memphis, Tenn., district office, said in a statement.
“This policy will provide guidelines for requesting religious accommodations. The parties to the case worked in good faith to resolve this matter, and the Commission is satisfied with the resolution.”
Kroger did not respond to a request for comment.