Fast food restaurants have employee dress codes not only for appearances, but for hygiene and safety. With that in mind, this case is sounding a lot like the case of the women wanting to wear Islamic attire in a Midwestern tortilla factory. The local health inspector isn’t going to take kindly to long sleeves potentially brushing perishable food, and/or the grill and fryer oil, to say nothing of guidelines for hand-washing (see also: the debate over short sleeves in British hospitals). Then there is the matter of long attire and the potential need to make a quick exit in the event of a fire or robbery.
There are many functional reasons for demanding standardized attire, but there is also the matter of allowing special treatment for a small part of the work force. And would the uniform issue be the end of the demands for accommodation? For example, would these women refuse to make a burger with bacon?
“Two Muslim women sue McDonald’s, alleging discrimination,” by Gregg Krupa for the Detroit News, July 24:
DEARBORN — Two Muslim women say that a McDonald’s restaurant refused to hire them, and insulted them during job interviews because they wear traditional Islamic dress.
Toi Whitfield, 20, of Detroit and Quiana Pugh, 25, of Dearborn sued McDonald’s, the owner of the local franchise and its unidentified manager in Wayne County Circuit Court on Thursday. Their representative said they are considering filing civil rights complaints with the federal and state governments.
“I applied for the McDonald’s position maybe two weeks ago and he simply (told me) I had to make a choice and remove my hijab, or I would not be able to establish employment there,” Pugh said.
“When I walked away, I was definitely hurt by it and disturbed. I was confused that it could happen here in Dearborn, with so many Muslims,” she said.
A man who would not identify himself at the restaurant, on Ford Road near Schaefer, referred all questions to representatives for McDonald’s. “We’re just trying to figure out what is going on,” he said.
The man said the manager in question at the restaurant would not have a comment.
The women are seeking $10 million in a suit.