For some reason, Kroger wanted its employees to wear aprons with a rainbow-colored heart symbol. Now the grocery store chain is being sued by two employees who didn’t want to wear it, and who subsequently got fired.
Kroger also issued the new aprons in April, with gay Pride Month being celebrated in June. Still, the store won’t say whether the aprons were intended to promote homosexuality to its customers. The store told NBC News it cannot comment on pending litigation.
The ex-employees, who identify as Christian, cited religious objections in their refusal to wear what they believed was an “endorsement of the LGBTQ community,” according to the lawsuit in federal court.
The complaint was filed Sept. 21 by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission on behalf of Brenda Lawson, 72, and Trudy Rickerd, 57, both former employees of a Kroger store in Conway, Ark. Employees for several years before being fired last spring, the two women were allegedly disciplined and finally terminated after they refused to wear new aprons with the rainbow heart on the bib.
The lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Arkansas, alleges 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.”
Before they refused to wear the new aprons, the suit claims both women requested — but were denied — a religious accommodation to the chain’s dress code in the form of covering the rainbow-heart symbols with their name tags.