The owner of several McDonald’s franchised stores in Florida finds itself the defendant in a religious discrimination lawsuit by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission after, the suit says, a Hasidic Jewish man’s beard prevented his hiring.
The EEOC filed the suit in Orlando federal court Tuesday.
Hasidic Jewish men don’t shave their beards, so as to follow Leviticus 19:27: “Ye shall not round the corners of your heads, neither shalt thou mar the corners of thy beard.”
Chalfont & Associates, run by longtime McDonald’s franchisee, Frank Chalfont, owns several McDonald’s in Florida. Morteza Javadi wanted to work as a maintenance worker at the Chalfont-owned 900 W. State Rd. McDonald’s in Longwood and applied online.
When the store manager interviewed Javadi in person, according to the lawsuit, he said Javadi’s beard would have to come off to comply with the grooming policy. The men’s grooming policy quoted in the lawsuit says “that says all employees must be completely clean shaven.”
Though the suit calls this “McDonald’s policy,” the suit refers to Chalfont & Associates as “McDonald’s.” Franchisees can set their own grooming policies. An owner of 20 McDonald’s in Michigan, for example, says “moustaches that are well-trimmed and do not overlap the upper lip are allowed” as well as sideburns and goatees. No beards, however.
Javadi said he couldn’t shave his beard, but offered to wear a beard net. The manager said no shave, no hire because it would violate company policies and the law.
The Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation, which inspects and licenses restaurants, doesn’t address beard nets or restaurant maintenance workers in this 2019 New Operator’s Training Guide.
In its hair restraint section, it says, “Bar tenders and servers who only dispense beverages, scoop ice and deliver plated food are not required to wear a hair restraint as long as their hair does not cause cross contamination.”
The EEOC’s suit claims Chalfont’s policy is an “unlawful employment practice” and discriminates against Javadi.
Two phone messages were left at Chalfont & Associates offices.