The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission charged United Parcel Service with religious discrimination in a Brooklyn lawsuit filed Wednesday, claiming Rastafarians, Muslims and others whose religious customs conflict with the UPS personal appearance policy were not properly accommodated.
Among more than a dozen examples across the country, the federal court suit cited a Rastafarian on Long Island who was put into a back office job and denied a driver's position because of his hair for two years before getting an exemption.
UPS, according to the suit, prohibits beards and hair below the collar line for male employees who have customer contact, doesn't effectively notify employees of their right to seek religious exemptions and takes too long to process requests.
The class-action lawsuit says UPS should be ordered to reform its practices and provide financial compensation such as back pay to employees who have encountered discrimination. It says Christians and American Indians also have been affected.
UPS said in a statement it was "confident in the legality" of its policies for approving religious variations from grooming guideline, and planned to defend its practices.