UPS agreed to pay nearly $5 million in a settlement with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) following a lengthy court battle over the shipping company’s policy on beards and hair length for male employees.
In 2015, the EEOC claimed in a lawsuit that UPS’ uniform policy, which bars men from growing beards and requires their hair to be collar-length at the longest, violated the rights of workers whose religious traditions conflict with the conservative standard, according to Business Insider.
While UPS did not claim any wrongdoing, it agreed to pay $4.9 million to bring to a close the government’s lawsuit accusing the national brand of violating the Civil Rights Act.
UPS defended its policy in a statement following the decision to pay the hefty settlement:
UPS is proud of the diversity of its workforce and does not tolerate discrimination of any kind. While UPS disagrees with assertions made by the EEOC, the company resolved this lawsuit because we choose to focus our energy on our hiring and promotion process, rather than lengthy and costly court proceedings.
Jeffrey Burstein, regional attorney for the EEOC’s New York District Office, said the government is “extremely pleased” with UPS’ decision to pay the lump sum, arguing employees at the company “have been forced to choose between violating their religious beliefs and advancing their careers at UPS” for “far too long.”
One Native American applicant who sought a job at UPS was turned away in 2007 because of his long hair, which he said was a religious observance. He was told, “No haircut, no job.”
Two other Muslims — one who worked at UPS and the other who applied for a driving position at the company — filed the original charges with the EEOC. Both men wear beards as part of their Islamic faith.