McDonald's in Florida discriminated against Jewish man, wanted him to shave his beard, lawsuit says

The U.S. Equal Employ­ment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is suing the owner of multiple Florida McDonald’s restaurants over claims that his dress code discriminated against a Hasidic Jewish man.

In September 2016, Morteza Javadi had reportedly applied online for a position at a Longwood location of McDonald’s owned by Chalfont & Associates. Upon meeting the store manager, however, he was told he would need to shave his beard before he could be hired for the position, as store policy stipulated that “all employees must be completely clean shaven,” according to an EEOC press release.

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Javadi said he would not be able to comply for religious reasons — Hasidic men refrain from shaving so as to comply with a passage in Leviticus — but offered to wear a beard net. He was allegedly told that would not suffice.

“Employers should never force applicants to choose between their sincerely held religious beliefs, which can be reasonably accommodated, and earning a living."

— EEOC Regional Attorney Robert Weisberg

The EEOC’s lawsuit, filed Tuesday, claims this constituted discrimination based on religion as well as a violation of federal law that "requires employers to reasonably accommodate an applicant's or employee's sincerely held religious beliefs, unless it poses an undue hardship,” an attorney for the EEOC said in a statement.

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“Employers should never force applicants to choose between their sincerely held religious beliefs, which can be reasonably accommodated, and earning a living,” said EEOC attorney Robert Weisberg.

The organization is seeking back pay, punitive damages and compensatory damages.

A representative for McDonald’s was not immediately available to comment.

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Chalfont & Associates, owned by Frank Chalfont, owns several McDonald’s locations across Orange, Seminole and Lake counties.