Kroger sued after allegedly firing Arkansas workers who refused to wear rainbow symbol

The two workers refused to wear the aprons, citing religious objections

(Scott Olson, 2008 Getty Images)

Grocery giant Kroger is being sued in federal court after two former employees claim they were wrongfully fired for refusing to wear an apron with a rainbow symbol, according to NBC News.

The lawsuit says the ex-employees, who identify as Christian, said they refused to wear the uniform for religious objections and they believe that wearing it is an “endorsement of the LGBTQ community.”

On Monday, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission filed the complaint to the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Arkansas on behalf Brenda Lawson, 72, and Trudy Rickerd, 57, who both worked at a Kroger store in Conway, Arkansas.

The women were allegedly disciplined and eventually fired for not wearing the new aprons issued last April that had an embroidered rainbow heart on the top left part of the bib.

Before refusing the aprons, the lawsuit says the workers requested a religious accommodation to the uniforms but were denied, according to the lawsuit.

The rainbow flag is used as a symbol to express LGBTQ pride. NBC News reports that Kroger declined to confirm whether the symbol was intended for pride purposes and said it can’t comment on pending litigation.

The lawsuit alleges that Kroger violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Title I of the Civil Rights Act of 1991 when it “refused to accommodate the religious beliefs of Lawson and Rickerd, and disciplined and terminated them because of their religious beliefs and in retaliation for requesting a religious accommodation.”

The lawsuit says that Lawson and Rickerd “believe in the literal interpretation of the Bible” and “hold a sincerely held religious belief that homosexuality is a sin.”

NBC News reports the complaint asks for Kroger to reform its practices and give compensation to the two former employees for “emotional pain and suffering, humiliation, inconvenience, and loss of enjoyment of life” among other things.

About the Author:

Nicole Del Rosario joined WSLS 10 in August 2020.