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July 28, 2011

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Comments

Teke

I think, with long hair, there is a greater prbboaility, if it snagging when combing or brushing, and some have pulled out. Even with long hair are those that get stuck on their own rather stable in the other, until you are combing, while with short hair, shed hair fall could go free and get lost and thus not counted in the hair inventory. By the way, if you nothing else to do but count the number of shed hairs have every day, you have to get out.

diane roy

I also worked for Taco Bell, a franchise called Sundance, in Mich. I was harrassed because of a health condition that prevented me from doing dishes. I was accused of sleeping with my dr to get the note! When I complained, I was told I had the problem! I filed a complaint with EEOC, I'm just waiting for them to complete the investigation.

Hypnotherapy London

Very interesting read. Thank you!

Emily

This is a very interesting case. The Dictionary reference mentions the absence of combing or brushing hair but not washing so I would assume that the could still be kept reasonably well as long as that occurs.

As with all jobs that involve working with food, as long as his hair is fastened and restrained by a hair net or some other device...why not let him work?

Rev. Dr. John Benjamin Tatum, D.D., Ph.D.

I think what is important here and what will be the "linchpin" of the lawsuit is "reasonable accommodations" (if they were extended by the employer, and if they were accepted by the employee).

If he was treated no different than a long haired woman (using whatever requirements are required of the employer and the local health department for a woman with long hair), and he accepted such restrictions (such as hairnets, hats, an "up-do" of the hair when working), and then HE REFUSED to do such actions... case closed, Taco Bell's Franchisee wins.

BUT, if they stated "cut your hair or be fired", and no such accommodations such as I mentioned above were offered... ESPECIALLY AFTER HIS SIX YEAR EMPLOYMENT IN THE COMPANY... then case closed, Taco Bell's Franchisee LOSES.

If this was a woman, who decided for NON-RELIGIOUS NON-1st Amendment grounds, to have long hair working for the company, given food service requirements and health code requirements, hair nets, hats, and other things are used to keep her hair up and out of the food.

As someone who has managed in the food service industry, within a company that was a real "Mickey Mouse" company, and REQUIRED that hair be off the ears, off the collars, and clean shaven (I think you know the company I speak of), I have seen people with such grooming have their hair fall into food they were preparing. So even "short hair" does not prevent you from getting "hair in your fast food meal". Even in "Fine Dining" restaurants you have the cooking staff wearing hats, hair nets, or have their hair closely shorn (due to both hair getting in their way and due to a commercial kitchen getting VERY HOT)... but there you can be having people sweating in your food... so there is more than hair that can be in your food.

But again, if he was treated no differently than a female employee with long hair, then that is one case.

If he was treated DIFFERENTLY than a female employee with long hair, then that is a very different case.

If he was offered to keep his hair up, under his hat, wearing a hairnet, or whatever else is required of a Taco Bell female employee with long hair... AND HE REFUSED then Taco Bell wins.

If he was not offered such "reasonable accommodations" under Title VII, with a "cut your hair or get a new job", then Taco Bell LOSES.

It is as simple as that.

Andrew

Glad I am not a US taxpayer supporting the EEOC. Crackpottery.

John

This will turn on whether a 'reasonable accommodation' is possible. Sikhs don't cut their hair--though they do wash and groom it. They have widely received accommodation to keep their hear, wear their turbans, even carry their religious-required kirpans.

We don't know whether the plaintiff here washes and groom his hair; the article only notes that, as general practice, Nazerites do not. That does not necessarily lead to the conclusion that this Nazerite follows religious prescriptions in all regards.

ColorBlindJustice

With all due respect to the supposedly religious among us, anyone who doesn't cut, comb or brush his hair for 10 years and counting is Howard Hughes insane and should simply be institutionalized. And speaking of institutional insanity, that the EEOC would even contemplate involvement in this matter speaks volumes about the nuts running the asylum there.

Sharon Druker

I assume Taco Bell has female employees and that some of them have long hair - why could he not pull it back in a ponytail and/or wear a hair net as most workers do in the food industry?

Ivan Renko

I don't think one's religious beliefs permit one to put the health of others at risk. This stuff has to stop somewhere.

In certain cases, the High Court has ruled that where the welfare of the public may be at stake, "discrimination" - if it can even be called such - may be justified. If an employee wants to be "free" to practice a religious belief that precludes him from cutting his hair, he should not work with food. He is risking his employer's ability to adhere to public health requirements, not to mention maximize profits.

As a counter-example, many black men, and some men of other ethnicities, are predisposed to a condition called "pseudo-follicalitis barbae", which causes many of them to develop painful, unsightly razor bumps if they shave too often. The curly nature of their hair and natural density of their skin are the culprits.

Hence, through no fault of their own - and as a personal health precaution - some black men must frequently wear facial hair, or at least eschew the razor a significant portion of the time. Many employers have learned that this can be negotiated by allowing cleanly lined, short-cvropped beards and trimmed mustaches.

The Supreme Court ruled in favor of a black male who sued on those bases and won. I believe his employer was Domino's Pizza.

This is different. The practice of religion may denote taking certain days off, reading the Bible during work breaks, wearing turbons, refusing to eat pork, etc.

These are all perfectly legal exemptions under anti-discrimination laws, and rightly so. But anti-discrimination laws are not intended to enable certain individuals to defiantly risk the public's health and potentially reduce the corporate/business profits of their employers.

I think the EEOC is going to lose this one. There has to be a line drawn somewhere. Oh...and FYI...I am a practicing black male Muslim.

thinking out loud

I think this will all turn on what is a "reasonable accommodation" in this workplace environment.

If Family Foods could have found him a job within their corporation where his hair grooming belief was not at odds with the department of health regulations they may have a problem.

There are not enough facts in this article to allow us to know what the real issue is. If he was a janitor, then his hair grooming may not be an issue related to the performance of his job, but more to the corporation's preference. If he was a food handler then the employer may have a pretty strong argument.

This may be important in the end more for muslims wearing head coverings and other religious minority groups than for the Nazarites. I assume this is a test case for the EEOC and the lawyer.

Sue

I'm on the side of Taco Bell. If you want your religious issues to take precedence over all others, don't work in the food industry where hair length is a health concern. Since prospective employers are not allowed to ask issues regarding religion, the ball was in the employee's court.

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