Christian woman files discrimination suit against Mississippi restaurant over blue jeans requirement

A Christian woman has filed a religious discrimination lawsuit on Sept. 25 against a restaurant chain in Mississippi over a dress code which required servers to wear blue denim pants, as she said she could only wear skirts or dresses because of her religion.

(REUTERS / Andrew Biraj)A stack of clothes is seen at a garment factory near the collapsed Rana Plaza building in Savar, Bangladesh, June 16, 2013.

Kaetoya Watkins got a job as a waitress at the Georgia Blue LLC restaurant chain in October 2015. She had requested the company to allow her to wear a blue skirt as she could not comply with its requirement to wear blue jeans as Apostolic Pentecostal Christians were allowed to wear only skirts or dresses, Fox News detailed.

"Watkins notified Georgia Blue of her Apostolic Pentecostal religious belief that women should wear only skirts or dresses and requested the reasonable accommodation of wearing a blue skirt," according to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in the lawsuit.

When Watkins reportedly did not receive feedback from Georgia Blue regarding her request, she showed up for work wearing a denim skirt. However, the company sent her home for the dress code violation, according to the Associated Press.

Later on, Georgia Blue denied Watkins' request to wear a skirt to work and told her that they would "not stray away from" its dress code. They also rescinded her job offer.

EEOC's Birmingham Disrict Office district director Delner Franklin-Thomas said employers have to accommodate an employee's request to practice his or her religion when they can do so without affecting their operations. He added that allowing a server to wear a skirt to work would have been a simple matter and that Watkins should not have been made to choose between her job and her religious belief.

In a separate situation in Tennessee, EEOC has sued grocery chain Publix Supermarkets for allegedly violating the law by not allowing an employee to practice his Rastafarianism beliefs by wearing his dreadlocks to work. Guy Usher was hired at a branch in Nashville but was allegedly told by a manager that he had to chop off his dreadlocks to shoulder length, Fox 17 reported.

Usher reportedly asked if he could hide his hair under a hat as his religion prevents him from cutting it. However, the management refused to honor his request and he had to quit his job before he even started his first day.