have been employed by Ruby Tuesday for the better part of a year now. When i was hired and during my orientation i explained that i wear a necklace that reflects my religious beliefs. The necklace is on a black string and is tied around my neck tight enough so it cant be removed unless i cut the string but long enough to be hidden beneath my uniform. I said i was happy to conceal it but i was never going to remove it due to my right of religious beliefs. Carrie, the General manager of the store said that would be fine. Since the day of my orientation i have been talked to about my necklace even though i wear it under my clothing, and each time i have said that its a religious symbol and i refuse to remove it and that i wear it under my shirt. i have been wearing the necklace for over 3 years and it has never come off of my neck. I also mentioned to my employer that i reserved Wednesday as my religious day of rest and have been on more than one occasion scheduled to work on a wednesday and i would tell them that i could not work and they would be okay with it.
We have recently gone into a management change in the last few weeks that has caused some severe problems for some of the employees. The new General Manager has questionable hiring practices, and management practices. We also received a new assistant manager, Tabitha, with whom i have a grievance.
Today, Sunday April 26th 2009, I showed up to work as scheduled at noon, wearing my necklace tucked in my shirt as i always do. And was signed off on my appearance by the morning manager Tobias and was allowed to clock in. I worked for 2 hours and was given my hour break, I went home to change my shirt because the one i wore in the morning was thermal and the day was very very hot. I but on a black t-shirt which was allowed for by the appearance policy. showed up to work on time and went to Tabitha for my appearance sign off so i could clock in ( mind you my necklace is still tucked into my shirt and not visible save a bit of the black string which blends in with my shirt). She looks me up and down and told me to take my necklace off. I told her that i Cant take my necklace off, 1) without ruining it and 20 its a religious symbol and that i was told i could wear it so long as i tucked it under my shirt. She told me that her boss said there would be no exceptions to the necklace policy. and that i was not allowed to work so long as i wore my necklace. I told her that at this point she is being religiously discriminative and it was unconstitutional to coerce me into removing my necklace. She outright said she didn't care and that she was only trying to protect her self from her bosses. I asked her what she meant and she told me that she was not allowing me to clock in with my necklace on. I told her that i would be in contact with her again and that this wasn't settled. I left without causing a scene and as i was leaving i noticed one of the servers Jordan, wearing his gold,diamond crucifix as i was leaving and asked him if he was clocked in and he said yes, His crucifix was on the outside of his clothing and much more gaudy than my necklace which no one would see. I left and went home to do a little research. I found the religious discrimination act web page and printed it out, highlighted the provisions set therein for the freedom to religious expression and practices. I took the time to highlight all the parts that Tabitha violated. I then went back to work and handed it to her and told her she should read up on the constitution and that just because i work at a place that requires no education to work at, didn't mean i was ill-educated. She took the papers and gave them back to me and told me she wasn't interested and that i should take it up with District manager which i left a message for but it wasn't returned. I told her i had a copy for him that he can have for himself but since she was the person that violated my constitutional rights that i wanted her to read up on it because i would be pressing charges.
I was originally hired to be a manager, when i had my first interview with Bill the district manager he said he would like to fast track me to management and that it could take me 3 - 6 months to get into management but he wanted to do that, so i quit my job as a salary manager at another restaurant to work for Ruby Tuesday. I have noticed that since i have made it known that i am religious that it has cost me my chance to be promoted or treated fairly in the company. I have seen many people be hired form the outside and promoted from within that have less management experience than i do ( 6+ years ) and when i bring it up they tell me that they will make a development plan for me and i have yet to see one.
Yet another day in my life. The manner in which my managers dealt with this matter is ridiculous and close minded.
I lost a day of work and who is to say what else i will lose in this process. But i have already filled charges, contacted the EEOC Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, a lawyer, and the corporate office of Ruby tuesday. Funny thing is i heard back from the lawyer and the eeoc before i heard from the district manager or a representative of the company.