US auto parts retailer settles lawsuit with Sikh employee

April 12th, 2012 - 2:01 pm ICT by IANS  

Washington, April 12 (IANS) US national auto parts retailer AutoZone has agreed to pay $75,000 to a Sikh convert to settle a religious discrimination lawsuit alleging he was not allowed to wear a turban and kara (bracelet).

According to Sikh Coalition, 24-year-old Frank Mahoney Burroughs’ problems started after he converted to Sikhism while working at an AutoZone store in Everett, Washington, in 2009.

Managers at the store also harassed him by asking if he had joined Al Qaeda and whether he was a terrorist, he said.

“Even human resources, they weren’t very helpful,” Mahoney Burroughs said. “They suspended me and let the people harassing me keep their jobs and get promotions, and ultimately fired me, which was like a horrible blow to me.”

In conjunction with the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), Mahoney Burroughs brought a lawsuit against AutoZone, claiming the company violated federal law when it subjected him to harassment and refused to accommodate his religious need to wear a turban.

The lawsuit also accused AutoZone of firing Mahoney Burroughs because of his religion, and in retaliation for asking for an accommodation and complaining about discrimination.

In addition to the financial settlement, AutoZone has agreed to adopt a religious accommodation policy, retrain managers at more than 4,500 stores nationwide, and notify its 65,000 employees of the settlement.

The settlement comes after a federal judge in Boston ruled in favour of Mahoney Burroughs and the EEOC, in a summary judgment.

(Arun Kumar can be contacted at

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