Former employees of Kroger are suing the company in federal court over claims that they were fired for refusing to wear an apron with an LGBTQ rainbow symbol that would have defied their religious beliefs, numerous sources reported Thursday.
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission reportedly filed the complaint in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Arkansa on behalf of the two former employees, Brenda Lawson, 72, and Trudy Rickerd, 57. Both worked at a Kroger store in Conway, Arkansas, for several years before being fired last spring, according to NBC.
The two Christian former employees alleged that they were disciplined and then wrongfully terminated last spring after refusing to wear new aprons that included an embroidered rainbow heart on the top left portion of the bib.
The rainbow flag symbol is commonly understood to represent LGBTQ pride, and is often displayed in June during Pride Month.
The lawsuit alleges that 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.”
The lawsuit also claims that the women asked for religious accommodation to the dress code that included the rainbow symbol so as to not defy their beliefs, but were denied the ability to cover up the rainbow symbols with their name tags.
According to the lawsuit, the two women “believe in the literal interpretation of the Bible” and “hold a sincerely held religious belief that homosexuality is a sin.”
Numerous individuals have previously sought legal action against what they’ve believed are threats to their religious liberties.
Most recently, a wedding photographer filed a lawsuit challenging a Louisville, Kentucky, law that she alleged forces her to promote same-sex wedding ceremonies against her religious beliefs. Similarly, a wedding photographer challenged a Virginia law that would force him to provide his services to same-sex couples against his beliefs, or be subject to fines. (RELATED: Wedding Photographer Sues Louisville Over Law Forcing Her To Write In Favor Of Same-Sex Marriage)
The complaint claims that Kroger did not fire other employees who refused to wear the apron without citing religious beliefs.
It also calls for the company to reform its practices and provide the two women compensation for “emotional pain and suffering, humiliation, inconvenience, and loss of enjoyment of life” that the company caused.