- Emergency transport corporations World Medical Response, Inc. and American Medical Response, Inc. discriminated in opposition to staff with disabilities and spiritual wants when it pressured them to shave to maintain their jobs, the U.S. Equal Employment Alternative Fee charged in a lawsuit Sept. 29 (EEOC v. World Medical Response, Inc., et al, No. 1:22-cv-02544 (D. Colo. Sept. 29, 2022)).
- Representing a variety of plaintiffs, the EEOC famous quite a lot of causes staff had a protected proper to their facial hair. The incapacity claimants had pseudofolliculitis barbae, a persistent inflammatory pores and skin dysfunction, which is aggravated by shaving and is a incapacity protected by the Individuals with Disabilities Act, EEOC mentioned. The non secular discrimination claimants wore beards in accordance with a variety of spiritual beliefs, together with Sikhism, Nordic Paganism, Judaism, Protestantism (Baptist) and the Hebrew Israelite motion.
- The businesses required staff to shave in an effort to put on destructive strain respirators, a sort of security tools that can’t be correctly worn if there may be facial hair between the seal and the person’s pores and skin, based on the grievance. However EEOC identified that alternate respirators exist and could also be used as a substitute. “We don’t touch upon pending litigation,” World Medical Response informed HR Dive.
Security tools is usually a troublesome subject for employers to navigate relative to compliance, because the Occupational Security and Well being Administration, an arm of the U.S. Division of Labor, could require particular practices within the office.
OSHA has launched loads of steering particular to respirators, of which there are a number of varieties. Whereas GMR accurately interpreted OSHA’s steering that destructive strain respirators can’t be correctly worn over facial hair — a rule that knowledgeable its “No Facial Hair Coverage,” based on EEOC — the company identified that OSHA doesn’t require EMTs to make use of destructive strain or tight-fitting respirators.
As an alternative, EEOC famous, the businesses might decide to permit staff entitled to an exemption to make use of constructive strain respirators, which don’t require a good seal.
OSHA has beforehand weighed in on this very subject. In December 2021, Kimberly A. Stille, then-acting director of OSHA’s Directorate of Enforcement Packages, launched a letter to the authorized director of the Sikh Coalition concerning a gathering the pair needed to talk about respirator use and spiritual exemptions. “In an August 5, 2011 letter of interpretation, OSHA defined that the Respiratory Safety Commonplace permits the usage of loose-fitting PAPRs by staff with facial hair within the majority of conditions the place respirators are required,” Stille wrote.
The EEOC launched steering in 2014 to assist employers navigate conditions wherein staff search to take care of explicit garb or grooming practices that run counter to these required by the employer. In it, EEOC famous that an employer could bar an worker’s non secular gown or grooming observe attributable to office security, however provided that failing to take action would “pose an undue hardship.”