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March 18th, 2011
11:39 AM ET

Woman who says she was forced to wear Santa hat gets $55,000

From CNN Raleigh, North Carolina affiliate WRAL:

Belk Inc. has agreed to settle a federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission lawsuit that alleged the chain's Crabtree Valley Mall department store fired a woman because of her religious beliefs.

The lawsuit alleges that Myra Jones-Abid was working as a gift wrapper at Belk's in November 2008 when store managers ordered her to wear a Santa hat and Christmas-themed apron during the holiday season.

Jones-Abid is a Jehovah's Witness, and her religious practices prohibit her from celebrating holidays like Christmas, according to the lawsuit.

Read the full story about the lawsuit at WRAL.com

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Money & Faith • North Carolina • United States

soundoff (224 Responses)
  1. Darius

    You work at a gift wrapping station but wearing a santa hat is against your religion?!?

    March 19, 2011 at 7:01 pm |
    • NoDoubt

      Exactly. She was working in a gift-wrapping area. For the holidays. If I were working in an environment where the culture and or/religion required me as a woman to wear a burqa, I would. If I had an issue with it, I wouldn't take the job. Simple. Doesn't mean I'm Muslim. Has nothing to do with my beliefs.

      March 24, 2011 at 8:22 pm |
    • RC

      I agree that a gift wrapping job is a little touchy, but just wrapping gifts (no matter the occasion) for someone else does not imply that you are celebrating that holiday. Scene: Some guy buys a birthday gift and has it wrapped at the counter... guy says thanks for celebrating my birthday with me" NO, that was a job and she didn't partake in his birthday celebration.

      Wearing a hat and clothes that is NOT part of your everday uniform (you don't wear the stupid hat any other month I mean come on!) where the hat and clothes directly tells everyone "hey, she is in the Christmas spirit". Those clothes are a sign of celebrating that certain holiday which is not allowed. The job is up to the person's conscience.

      April 1, 2011 at 3:07 pm |
  2. Addie

    SHE WAS GIFT WRAPPING CHRISTMAS PRESENTS SO WHAT THE HELL? Oh you're Jehovah Witness who is so devoted to your religion yet, you CHOOSE to work a job that requires you to wrap presents for the Christmas season. What a damn hypocrite. Should not have gotten one penny.

    March 19, 2011 at 5:29 pm |
    • Mr. Sniffles

      You know, there are more holidays than Christmas in the holiday season, like Eid, Hanukkah, Winter Solstice, and Kwanzaa. It might just be possible that she was wrapping gifts for other religions, or even birthdays.

      March 19, 2011 at 5:57 pm |
    • vonspoo

      you're right sniffles. she should never have agreed to work there AT ALL because ALL holidays are forbidden, birthdays included.

      March 27, 2011 at 7:28 pm |
    • Chip

      Sniffles, Jehovahs do not celebrate any holidays, birthdays, anniversaries, or the like. So regardless of what she thought she was wrapping gifts for, she shouldn't have taken the job in the first place as it conflicts with her religion's beliefs. They were right to fire her. Shame on those who awarded this hypocrite money.

      April 1, 2011 at 1:40 pm |
  3. Randy

    Uncle Sam, actually it's not a work uniform. If it was counted as that, then it should have been brought up at hiring. E.g. "At Christmas time, we as an employer require our employees to wear a Santa Hat at Christmas". "Do you have a problem with that?"? Rather than assume that all employees celebrate Christmas via Santa Clause. You remind me of one of those people who would say "SPEAK ENGLISH, you're in America". types.

    March 19, 2011 at 11:21 am |
    • Mr. Sniffles

      Give Uncle Sam a turban (with no symbols aat all on it) and force him to say Happy Ramadan during that holiday, and just see what he thinks about it.

      March 19, 2011 at 5:49 pm |
    • Marvinmanic

      How long should an interview last?
      You will be asked to smile do you have a problem with that?
      You might be asked to wear a name tag that has more than just you name on it, do you have a problem with that?
      Come on It is a JOB, you do what you employer ask to promote sales.
      It is Christmas you promote Christmas, it is June you promote weddings, ETC...

      March 24, 2011 at 6:04 am |
  4. Frederica

    Jehovah's Witnesses need an authentic Bible other than their World Translation and read the whole text.

    March 19, 2011 at 1:47 am |
    • B(iraq) Hussein Osama

      Atleast they READ their Bible, and notice in there nowhere does Jesus refer to himself as God! So you got to hand the JW, they are not as stupid as you think they are.

      March 20, 2011 at 4:36 am |
    • John John

      How is a book of mythology gonna help some doofus in a cult?

      March 30, 2011 at 2:21 pm |
    • RC

      ughh...Funny.....JWs read the King James Bible alot, some even use it door to door to show that it isn't all that different.

      I love ignorant people who think they know other religions. Pure hate.

      April 1, 2011 at 3:01 pm |
    • Prof ANON

      @RC

      Sounds like you are a JW. I used to be one, and I would use that "we read the King James" line as well. You and I both know that that is a LIE 99.9% of the time (with the possible exception of the resident super-pioneer). It's just another way of reframing reality. I only remember ever meeting one or two people who even owned a King James. Usually it was up on a shelf and covered in dust.

      April 5, 2011 at 10:41 am |
  5. tallulah13

    I fail to see how being asked to wear a uniform at your job is celebrating anything. I put myself through college working at various fast food places, and never once did I feel that my polyester uniform reflected anything about me except that I was employed at a place that required a uniform. This is a frivolous lawsuit and she didn't deserve a dime.

    March 18, 2011 at 11:13 pm |
    • PennPatty

      Jehovah Witnesses see that as part of their religion, they do not celebrate ANYTHING. If it was just a blue and white store uniform, she would have no case. But she ended up being fired because her religion forbids that she displays, wears, anything related to ANY holiday. So legally they were wrong. I don't totally get JH, but the store broke the law.

      March 19, 2011 at 10:01 am |
    • tallulah13

      Doing your job is not celebrating. If they made her put up a tree at home, send out cards and make cookies, she would have a case. She had a job wrapping presents, which in itself indicates that you are preparing something for a celebration. Perhaps she shouldn't have taken the job, knowing she would be so close to something that her religion opposes.

      A hat and an apron is uniform. I wore a hat and an apron when I was flipping burgers. I wasn't celebrating anything but a paycheck. This was a frivolous case. She shouldn't have gotten a dime.

      March 19, 2011 at 1:04 pm |
  6. holycow

    so guess I'll become a JW and then go work at belk. easy money!

    March 18, 2011 at 4:43 pm |
  7. Eric G.

    Uh oh......
    Maybe I should re-think the "Catholic School Girl Friday's" dress code for the office?

    March 18, 2011 at 4:30 pm |
    • It's a tarp!

      Keep the School GIrl fridays and you will find in me your greatest customer ever! I don't care what you are selling, I'll buy it all!

      April 8, 2011 at 12:49 pm |
  8. Heathen

    Too bad about the hat. Maybe it didn't fit very well.

    March 18, 2011 at 2:28 pm |
  9. Uncle Sam

    $55,000 because she had to wear a hat for work. No wonder why this country is going through economic troubles.

    March 18, 2011 at 2:07 pm |
    • ScottK

      Well Sam, How would you feel if your employer came in and said "Ok, everyone, here are your aborted baby caps that I want you to wear to show our customers at the bank what an aborted baby can look like and that we're pro-life"...

      or...

      "Here is your "Obama 2012" hat that we need the employees to wear to show my support for Change we can believe in, otherwise your fired."

      "Here is your Yamaka to wear since alot of our clients are jewish and we need you to support their religious beliefs..."

      "Hey all you female employees, here are your Burqa's since we do business with alot of muslims..."

      Hmmm, "because she had to wear a hat for work." doesnt seem as petty now does it...

      March 18, 2011 at 3:13 pm |
    • holycow

      @scott, making extreme comparisons doesn't justify a point. It just sounds lame.

      March 18, 2011 at 4:44 pm |
    • Mr. Sniffles

      Those are perfectly legitimate comparisons.

      March 18, 2011 at 8:28 pm |
    • Uncle Sam

      @ScottK
      It's a work uniform, you don't like it get another job. This is a frivolous lawsuit that shouldn't have even gotten to the courts. She wouldn't wear it so she was fired. Regardless It's a hat with no symbols, just red with a white ball on top that for one day out of the year is apart of their work uniform. In California the prison system forces religious people to shave, when their religion says that's body mortification. That doesn't compare to any of the extreme examples you brought up. If a job tells you to wear a shirt or hat that has symbols or pictures on it that's offensive, it would be different.

      March 19, 2011 at 12:10 am |
    • Al Bluengreenenbrownenburger

      To digress a bit, why do Jehovah's Witnesses go door-to-door on Halloween trying to ruin the fun for the kids? They have to be fools to think the kids believe it is real, that they are somehow acting in an evil manner. They are just dressing up and playing.

      Halloween actualy is very moral and decent – generosity and kindness towards strangers and children.

      These creeps come by every Halloween. Just mosre proof that religion does nothing good for the world.

      March 19, 2011 at 5:46 pm |
    • B(iraq) Hussein Osama

      "Hey all you female employees, here are your Burqa's since we do business with alot of muslims..."

      90% of women in the Muslim World do not wear Burqas. You should learn about other cultures before stereotyping them. Burqas are only worn in Afghanistan and Saudi Arabia.

      March 20, 2011 at 4:31 am |
    • Deb

      @ScottK,

      In any of those scenarios, I would leave and find another job....or go into business for myself.

      No one is OWED a job in this country, and regulations have gone too far.

      If I start a company, I should be allowed to hire who I want to, and not hire those I don't. (Same thing applies if YOU want to start YOUR OWN company.) But as an employee, if you remind me of my mean Aunt Bertha from childhood, then I shouldn't have to hire you. If there is a specific image I want to create for MY company, then I should be allowed to hire only those people who fit the image I'm trying to project.

      This company wanted to project a certain image to their customers during a specific sales season. If the employee failed to comply, there's no reason to keep her there and keep paying her....especially not when there are plenty of people ready, willing, and able to take her place and perform their jobs the way the employer wanted them to.

      April 4, 2011 at 9:40 pm |
  10. Tweety58

    @Biffy
    See? Even religious people don't like religion shoved down their throats.

    Yay!Biffy GETS it!

    March 18, 2011 at 1:54 pm |
  11. Tweety58

    "Those people are nuts. jw's are a nasty cult better off dead and in the history books."

    Mischa,Hitler tried to kill all JWs too in camps like Auschwicz and Belsen.How do you feel about Jews,Nazi?

    March 18, 2011 at 1:52 pm |
    • Mischa

      Hitler tried to kill jehovahs witlesses? You are seriously deficient in reading comprehension or maybe you are a jehovahs witless. If so, consider the fact that I think your cult is one of the most pathetic cults to ever emerge from the christian pit of filth.

      Shocked? Yet so-called "loving christians" say worse than that regularly in these blogs against "unbelievers", so don't act all offended and shocked. Hitler was a christian "cleansing" the world of those "nasty Jesus-killers".
      Are you sure you're a christian? I'll bet you hate more people than I do. Most christians do. They win the hating trophy big-time.

      March 18, 2011 at 2:09 pm |
    • ScottK

      @Mischa – "Hitler tried to kill jehovahs witlesses? You are seriously deficient in reading comprehension"

      As an athiest I still am able to read, and Tweety58 is correct. I suppose you can't have reading comprehension if you don't actually read anything, but if you would like to correct your world view try googling "purple triangle".

      As for the Christian hate you speak of, I concur that most Christians say they believe the "hate the sin but not the sinner" but in practice they do alot of sinner hating.

      March 18, 2011 at 3:02 pm |
    • scott501

      @M Hitler DID have jehovahs witness in camps along w/ gays. its a fact. i was at the hollicast museum in dc. btw you sound very hateful

      March 27, 2011 at 12:51 am |
    • Prof ANON

      Historical Fact: The Jehovah's Witnesses (called Bible Student's a the time) were persecuted in concentration camps. However, before that happened,their organization sent a letter to Hitler arguing that they had common goals with his government.

      April 5, 2011 at 10:51 am |
  12. Biffy

    See? Even religious people don't like religion shoved down their throats.

    March 18, 2011 at 1:48 pm |
  13. Tweety58

    @Mischa
    You are mistaken. It would not have been illegal because they would have used a legitimate pretext.
    And they could refuse to hire her without saying why, which is also legal.

    As for the dishonesty, what planet are you from that you do not see the corruption all around you, everywhere?
    It is in every industry, every level of every government, every religion, and in every period of recorded history!
    Why would they do something honest when there are no regulations to make them honest?
    That's de-regulation for you. Thank your Republican buddies for any corruption due to lack of regulation.
    They were well-paid to make things this way, as were many Democrats, but the Republican "war on regulations" has been going on since before Reagan, who gave us several financial crisis himself.

    I would not have hired a jehovah's witless if I knew that's what they were. Those people are nuts. jw's are a nasty cult better off dead and in the history books. That's why I'm not hiring today. Don't call us, we'll call you.

    Seek help and quickly.You just failed your citizenship test and are a bigot,Ms Democranazi.,

    March 18, 2011 at 1:47 pm |
  14. GSA

    I know it is up to them to decide but if the managers are celebrating Christmas shouldn't they, in the spirit of Christmas, let her do her work without the hat? Was is that big of a deal to them that they couldn't just let it go, especially during this specific time of year?
    Firing her was stupid and it happened in the US so a lawsuit was obvious.

    March 18, 2011 at 1:45 pm |
    • cassandra

      sounds to me like the hat was the last straw. you wouldn't fire a GOOD EMPLOYEE for that but a would fire a constant pain-in the- you-know-what for it.

      March 30, 2011 at 9:38 am |
  15. Tweety58

    @Tommas
    "Awesome comment, and what does santa have to do with religion anyway"

    It has NOTHING to do with Santa and Religion,it has everything to do with the fact that JWs do not celebrate ANY holidays including,Christmas,Easter,Thanksgiving,Memorial Day or their own birthdays -it is part of their religion and they should not be forced to wear ANY symbol of ANY holiday whether secular or religious.
    Let's force all women to wear burquas on Mohammed's birthday.Doesn't work that way in this country and I am stunned by these comments.We live in a FREE country-got it?If you don't-sign up for remedial civics please.

    March 18, 2011 at 1:43 pm |
    • Marvinmanic

      I don't understand!
      When you are an employee you can be forced to wear a uniform.
      Is this not a uniform?

      March 24, 2011 at 5:56 am |
    • skyeyez9

      Sounds like a miserable existence imo. JW are forbidden to.....have fun and have to live their lives like a stick in the mud.

      March 26, 2011 at 12:54 pm |
    • Apeasant

      Im not sure if I consider being forced to wear a religous (debatable) costume as a condition of employment as particularly fun. It kills the spirit of the holiday, and to be honest I doubt any of the shoppers would have questioned or cared why one employee was not wearing the hat

      April 4, 2011 at 12:09 pm |
  16. Tweety58

    @Ron
    I don't think there is enough information to come to a conclusion as to whether she was right or wrong to sue.
    1. Was this a part time or full time job?
    2. Did she know or was she told that she would have to wear an holiday apron and hat?
    These are simply two questions not discussed in the article, so there is no way to know. Plus, knowing a little about the Jehovah Witness beliefs, If I were an employer, I wouldn't have put her in such a position.

    It is against the law to ask a potential employee their religion when considering hiring her.Why would the issue come up until they FORCED her to wear the hat?Part time or full time is irrelevant.The other about the hat would probably not be mentioned after all who would refuse to wear the hat EXCEPT A JW.And my God,why could they have not simply respected her Faith.Hardly a big deal in the greater scheme of things.Sounds like secular vindictiveness to me.Good for her.

    Can't say "Merry Christmas but you have to wear this dumb hat"-can no one else see the hypocrisy?

    March 18, 2011 at 1:33 pm |
    • Ron

      @tweety58,
      point taken.

      March 18, 2011 at 2:40 pm |
  17. Tweety58

    @Mischa
    "55k? Is that all? She was within her right to refuse, but most jobs like that are subject to firing without any reason needed.
    The big bosses made a mess of it. They could have eased her out on some other pretext and saved themselves bucks.
    They should have refused to hire her in the first place."

    That would be ILLEGAL.And if they eased her out on some other pretext that would be DISHONEST.Both hardly respecting the Spirit of Christmas,yeah?Also firing her under false pretexts would be tantamount to "constructive dismissal"and she would have been awarded MILLIONS.

    March 18, 2011 at 1:21 pm |
    • Mischa

      You are mistaken. It would not have been illegal because they would have used a legitimate pretext.
      And they could refuse to hire her without saying why, which is also legal.

      As for the dishonesty, what planet are you from that you do not see the corruption all around you, everywhere?
      It is in every industry, every level of every government, every religion, and in every period of recorded history!
      Why would they do something honest when there are no regulations to make them honest?
      That's de-regulation for you. Thank your Republican buddies for any corruption due to lack of regulation.
      They were well-paid to make things this way, as were many Democrats, but the Republican "war on regulations" has been going on since before Reagan, who gave us several financial crisis himself.

      I would not have hired a jehovah's witless if I knew that's what they were. Those people are nuts. jw's are a nasty cult better off dead and in the history books. That's why I'm not hiring today. Don't call us, we'll call you.

      March 18, 2011 at 1:34 pm |
    • Randy

      @Mischa, that's way overboard. JW's are an occult yes but what isn't these days? Granted they are being controlled via the chosen 144,000 in Brooklyn but what religion isn't being controlled by and handful of pastors? I'm a Christian but I don't agree that people should be treated poorly because of their faith (within reason). Personally I would not have bought into the whole firing thing. Yes I would hire a JW based on their resume and not faith. I would not have forced ANYONE to wear that ridiculous red hat in the first place.

      March 19, 2011 at 11:11 am |
  18. Big Dave

    She can't celebrate xmas but can work in an endeavour which celebrates xmas. Isn't that like a vegan working in a slaughter house? What did she expect?

    March 18, 2011 at 12:44 pm |
    • Tommas

      Awesome comment, and what does santa have to do with religion anyway

      March 18, 2011 at 1:14 pm |
    • holycow

      like!

      March 18, 2011 at 4:36 pm |
    • Randy

      What she should have expected is to not have been forced to wear a ridiculous red santa hat if it goes against her faith. What she should have expected is to not have been fired over it. What she should have expected is to have been respected for her faith. I don't agree with the JW's perception on the bible but I do agree that she doesn't have to be forced to wear the red hat. That would be like forcing a Muslim employee to wear a cross around their neck.

      March 19, 2011 at 11:03 am |
    • THX

      I've never heard of a religion that outlaws Santa or clothing items that go with the concept. But then I've also never heard of someone who is against Christmas working at a Christmas wrapping booth either. Shouldn't she also be bellyaching that they made her wrap gifts too?

      March 21, 2011 at 10:53 pm |
    • Mallory

      Yes!!!

      March 22, 2011 at 5:42 pm |
    • DaveGinOly

      Well said.

      She objected that her religion does not permit her to celebrate the holiday. Nobody was asking her to celebrate. She was being asked to wear a uniform/costume appropriate to her emploment and the work she was doing, as well as appropriate to the holiday. This does not require her to celebrate the holiday, nor does it imply that she endorses it (at least not any more than taking money to wrap Christmas presents endorses the holiday).

      March 23, 2011 at 12:08 am |
    • Religous fath gets to dictate company policy

      @Randy: If Religious faith gets to dictate company policy for any company you work for, and companies are not allowed to "discriminate" against faiths, how do you propose we deal with Muslim cabbies, bus drivers, and business owners, refusing to cater to disabled persons with guide dogs?

      The same law that requires you cater to the disabled requires you cater to their faith. Something has to give, preferably before every business in the country is sued into oblivion for failing to cater to every single individual whim on the planet.

      March 25, 2011 at 4:16 pm |
    • Wzrd1

      You are incorrect about Muslims and dogs. Dogs ARE unclean to Muslims, but as the dog would NOT be in proximity or contact with the driver, it should be of no consequence.
      As I recall, there was even a fatwah to that effect some time ago. Though it HAS been a year and change since I was tracking such things for the government. I'm retired now...

      March 26, 2011 at 5:18 pm |
    • logikflux

      @Bigdave, well put. IMO they should have worked through HR to find her a different position that would align better with her faith, if nothing was acceptable then they should let her go. If she wants to take it to court, then let the court decide. If I were in the courtroom, there is no way I would have awarded her any money whatsoever.

      March 29, 2011 at 11:06 am |
    • RC

      I am a JW and I do agree working as a gift wrapper during Christmas time would be weird. She should have stated up front that she does not celebrate holidays and cannot dress according to them. HOWEVER, just wrapping christmas presents does not imply that we are celebrating the holiday, only you, and we are not going to try and stop you. It's merely a job and times are rough, there may not be many jobs in her area or she may not be qualified for much so working as a gift wrapper is an individuals choice.

      Santa has nothing to do with religion, but the holiday itself does. Wearing a red hat and some santa clothes you instantly think "hey they are in the christmas spirit". You don't think "ohh he's wearing a santa hat, he must be jewish". Just like a witch hat and halloween. Has nothing to do with halloween but if someone is wearing that and dressed up during halloween you think that they are celebrating halloween. And that is NOT what we want other people to think...that we are celebrating something we don't believe in.

      Just so you know, not celebrating Christmas has nothing to do with not believing in Jesus. Because we do....it has to do with what December 23-25 was before the birth of Christ was attached to it.

      April 1, 2011 at 12:51 pm |
    • Deb

      Awesome comment by Big Dave! Her behavior completely contradicts what's coming out of her mouth.

      IF this woman really expects anyone to believe that her gripe had anything to do with her religious beliefs, she would have refused to wrap gifts in CHRISTMAS paper in the first place, no matter what she was wearing.

      She is hypocritical about her faith, yet seeks to profit from it.

      Hmmmmmmmmm........

      Unless she donates every penny of her "award" to the JW religion, she is being even further hypocritical. Jesus won't be i happy with her if she keeps that money for herself, I can assure you.

      Sorry, I have to side with the store on this one. Shame I wasn't on the jury to add a measure of common sense to their feeble/incomplete interpretation of the law.

      April 4, 2011 at 8:58 pm |
    • Prof ANON

      @RC

      SO..if the woman was wrapping gifts with Santa or other Christmas symbols on it, it would be okay? I bet she wouldn't be allowed any congregation privelages....

      BTW: Historical fact, Jerusalem was not destroyed in 607 BC.

      April 5, 2011 at 10:47 am |
    • Frespech

      If a vegan worked in a slaughter house and the boss made her eat meat then just like in this case there would and should be a lawsuit.

      April 11, 2011 at 12:51 pm |
    • Molly

      Jehovah Witnesses do not celebrate any holidays, including birthdays, so why would she want to work as a gift wrapper? If she worked in another department and got assigned to work as a wrapper on occasion, then I can see justification for suing Belk if she refused to wear the outfit.

      April 13, 2011 at 3:22 am |
  19. Mischa

    55k? Is that all? She was within her right to refuse, but most jobs like that are subject to firing without any reason needed.
    The big bosses made a mess of it. They could have eased her out on some other pretext and saved themselves bucks.
    They should have refused to hire her in the first place.

    March 18, 2011 at 12:15 pm |
    • Nick

      Wow, really? You are of the opinion that it would have been a better in some way to simply deny this woman employment based on her religious beliefs than fire her for her religious beliefs? Both actions are abhorrent, as are you.

      March 19, 2011 at 4:11 pm |
    • Donnelly

      Yeah I think you're right, NC is a right to work state which means you can quit or be fired as long as they employer words/phrases things correctly without really needing a reason, but apparently they screwed it up somehow.

      March 21, 2011 at 11:47 am |
    • lilengel

      She's a Jehovah's Witness, she should be in the kitchen, barefoot, where she belongs, while her husband goes door to door attempting to force their religion on everyone else.

      March 26, 2011 at 12:34 am |
    • James

      I am a business owner and just wanted to say that BS like this is why many of us are reluctant to hire people here in the USA. We replaced numerous potential people like this with a simple no-stings contract with a company in India, unfortunately stores like the one damaged by this woman, have to deal with America's anti-business laws. Personally, I am not going to gamble my business on spoiled self-serving American workers who think I owe them something just because they exist or expect a lottery prize for having their feelings hurt! Looks like the jury in this case just added to the US unemployment problem! Stories like this confirm that we made the right decision in out-sourcing jobs to more deserving people.

      March 26, 2011 at 12:12 pm |
    • Wzrd1

      James, I see! So, in YOUR world view, your rights get checked at the door of your place of business?
      Can you inform me what products and company you own? I'd like to avoid you and products, as I prefer to NOT do business with those who believe and behave in un-American ways.
      The PROPER process in this, which would have prevented litigation, would be to state up front that on some seasonal holidays, the wear of certain items of clothing is required, such as santa hats, etc.
      OR simply not have her wear the stupid thing. I know that personally, I don't care WHAT a worker is wearing, as long as it's appropriate.

      March 26, 2011 at 5:15 pm |
    • Eye roller

      Oh for F's sake, stop trying to pretty this up as though her rights were stripped bare. Keep your damn religion outta my business, and I'll leave my business out of your religion.

      Santa is NOT a religious figure. Wearing a Santa hat is NOT an affront to any religious belief, it's merely an affront to fashion sense. You can say that you don't care what an employee wears, so long as it's decent, but you are overlooking the large chunk of companies that have this thing called a "uniform", which is required to be worn. This isn't a new fad, it's been around for a very long time. If an employee refuses to wear said uniform, that is generally grounds for firing. All she's doing is playing the victim card when she wasn't victimized in any sense of the word. Don't want to wear the uniform? Find a different job. To expect anything less is ignorant.

      April 8, 2011 at 12:28 pm |
  20. Ron

    I don't think there is enough information to come to a conclusion as to whether she was right or wrong to sue.
    1. Was this a part time or full time job?
    2. Did she know or was she told that she would have to wear an holiday apron and hat?
    These are simply two questions not discussed in the article, so there is no way to know. Plus, knowing a little about the Jehovah Witness beliefs, If I were an employer, I wouldn't have put her in such a position.

    March 18, 2011 at 12:03 pm |
    • Randy

      Ron your first question is absurd. Why does it matter if she was part time or full time? Does it matter if she was part time? Is she less important or have less worth? I am a Christian who doesn't celebrate Christmas as a Santa Clause holiday but rather as a Christian holiday celebrating the birth of Christ (even though it's just a representation) and would be HIGHLY offended if the some retail store chain FORCED me to wear a ridiculous Santa hat. This Belks, Ins should be penalized for being arrogantly ignorant regardless.

      March 19, 2011 at 10:57 am |
    • THX

      She was working as a seasonal CHRISTMAS gift wrapper. Why on earth would she take a job that centers around something that goes against her religious beliefs? I'm sensing a 'wanna win the lotto' lawsuit here.

      March 21, 2011 at 10:52 pm |
    • Paul

      Case summary below..

      FIRST employers are NOT allowed to ask religious preference when hiring... she was not seasonal, BUT worked in the gift wrapping department.

      JUST gift wrapping is objectional to a Jehovah's Witness's beliefs! This was for her PERSONAL beliefs... another words, make up your own religious guidelines and sue if you want to get rich.

      EEOC v. BELK is an ongoing 2010 North Carolina federal court case. A 49 year-old female Jehovah's Witness named Myra Jones-Abid was employed from May 2008 until November 2008, at a Belk's Department Store, located in the Crabtree Valley Mall, in Raleigh, North Carolina. Myra Jones-Abid worked in Belk's GIFT WRAP department wrapping birthday and holiday gift purchases. However, when all gift wrappers were instructed to wear a Santa Hat and Apron during the Xmas holiday season, Myra Jones-Abid refused. Myra Jones-Abid was terminated that same day.

      Myra Jones-Abid is now suing Belk Inc. for back pay, reinstatement, compensatory damages, punitive damages, and injunctive relief. EEOC is trying to make the case that while the vast majority of Jehovah's Witnesses would never accept employment as a gift wrapper continuously wrapping birthday and holiday gifts, their JW Client's personal religious beliefs allowed her to do so, thus the only legal issue is their client's personal religious belief against wearing the Santa Hat and Apron.

      March 24, 2011 at 6:02 am |
    • SAR

      Ok..seriously? Why did she think she was hired to wrap gifts in November?
      To take this a step further..lets say a Hindu wants to work at McDonalds..should they not have to serve burgers?

      March 24, 2011 at 5:50 pm |
    • Pat

      The two questions you just asked are completely irrelivant. It doesn't matter if it is FT, PT, or seasonal AND no employer ANYWHERE can MAKE you do anything...legally, hence the lawsuit.

      March 25, 2011 at 12:55 pm |
    • Teresa

      I agree that these questions are absurd for a couple of reasons. First, it has been stated that employers are not allowed to ask about an employee's religion, job candidates are not required to disclose their religion and the employer is not allowed to discriminate on the basis of religion. Secondly, I worked at the same Belk's store during the Christmas season back in 1990. I needed a part-time job while home from University and they were hiring. When I was hired, I was ASSIGNED to work different tasks and in different departments. I was actually hired for one department, but the store decided that they could use me more in another. So from my own experience, it is entirely possible that this woman did not intentionally apply for a job in the gift-wrapping department, but was assigned there after her hire. I am not a Jehovah's Witness, however, I can understand someone deciding to draw a line in the sand when it comes to adhering to one's own beliefs. Just because some of you people have no limits on what you will do for a dollar does not mean that there are not people in America who deem their values and beliefs to be more important than money.

      March 25, 2011 at 3:48 pm |
    • Religous fath gets to dictate company policy

      Hey Teresa, then what do you do when you own a Cab company, and your Muslim drivers refuse to carry passengers with dogs... including guide dogs, which you are required by law to carry? The cab company can't fire the driver or they'll get sued. They can't refuse to pick up the fare, or they'll get sued.

      Religious faith is a choice. Following that faith is a choice. If that choice interferes with somebody else's life (i.e., the company you work for), that is YOUR problem alone. YOU can CHOOSE to work in an industry that does not risk your faith.

      March 25, 2011 at 4:23 pm |
    • skyeyez9

      Pretty much anything will offend a jehova witness. The do not celebrate any holidays.

      March 26, 2011 at 12:52 pm |
    • Jo

      THX, This woman was NOT just working as a seasonal wrapper, she was a wrapper who refused to wear the offending apparel during the holiday season. re-read the article. Big difference.

      March 26, 2011 at 10:36 pm |
    • James

      The employer should consider this a lesson into why others hire illegal aliens to do these jobs. They don't complain about being asked to wear a hat and they don't destroy business's by filing frivolous lawsuits. Many Americans are losing their jobs because they just don't deserve them! If Karma were in effect here, this woman would never get another job in this country again! Shame on the jury, but hey, what do you expect? It wasn't 'their money' they gave to this worthless employee in this ridiculous lawsuit.

      March 28, 2011 at 12:57 pm |
    • cassandra

      Boo-hoo! That "religion" is run like a cult...everyone spying on eachother, ratting each other out, etc. No presents for holiday (too cheap) but don't mind a big sue pay day!

      March 30, 2011 at 9:33 am |
    • wkh

      Okay if one doesn't believe in Santa, and Santa is technically NOT a part of any religion, why is this any different than asking her to wear a flowery apron in spring, or an autumn leaves covered apron in fall? Santa isn't Christmas. Any real Christian will tell you that.

      March 30, 2011 at 11:13 am |
    • Alex

      Seasonal job wrapping gifts and she didn't expect to wear seasonal costumes? This lady is a complete mockery to the cult she belongs to. Of course, jw's are always looking for easy money, so I can't say I'm shocked

      April 5, 2011 at 12:44 pm |
    • Rob

      Sad situation. How could Belk be expected to keep up with each employee's personal beliefs? How can a person be expected to go against their beliefs for a company? Why can't people treat each other better? For example Belk reassigning this woman to some other task when they found out her belief system required her to take no part in Christmas fanfare. I mean this woman honestly feels like she is bowing to an idol if she were to put on a Santa hat. I know this because I've got caught up in the anti-holiday Christian fervor. It's all so related to pagan worship that its hard not to think that there might be something metaphysical to it. But any ways, people need to be more tolerant of each other. Religious people need to be very upfront about their beliefs to their employers. And sometimes, we all have to be willing to compromise, even if its with what we think is sin. If this country doesn't stop eroding the center, we're going to have another civil war on our hands before we know it.

      April 11, 2011 at 8:58 am |
    • Raevyn

      As a former Jehovah's Witness, I can tell you something is wrong with this story. No real Witness would ever take a job as a seasonal gift wrapper in the first place. Wrapping Christmas presents would be considered as wrong as wearing a Santa hat or Christmas apron.

      April 12, 2011 at 4:31 pm |
    • Amanda

      I disagree, I think there was plenty of information here. She was fired not because of her religious beliefs, but because she disobeyed a directive from her supervisor. It's just that simple. If she didn't want to wear Christmas attire, then she should not have accepted a job as a seasonal gift wrapper at Christmas time. Plain and simple, this was a frivolous law suit! Shame on whomever awarded her that much money.

      April 12, 2011 at 4:59 pm |
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About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.