Lawsuit claims Kroger fired women who refused to wear rainbow aprons

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Federal action accuses grocer of denying religious accommodations

Two former Kroger employees have filed a federal lawsuit against the supermarket chain, claiming they were fired for refusing to wear an apron stitched with a rainbow symbol, according to reports.

The legal action was filed Monday in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Arkansas by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

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Brenda Lawson, 72, and Trudy Rickerd, 57, allege they were disciplined and terminated from a Kroger store in Conway, Arkansas, last spring after they refused to wear the aprons embroidered with a rainbow heart on the bib.

The women said they regarded the aprons as an “endorsement of the LGBTQ community” and refused to wear them based on their Christian beliefs, NBC News reported. The suit also states that both women asked to cover up the symbols with their name tags but were denied.

The suit accuses Kroger of violating Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Title I of the Civil Rights Act of 1991, claiming the store “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.”

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Other employees also refused to wear the apron -- but for reasons unrelated to religion -- and they were not fired, according to the lawsuit.

When asked about the intent of the rainbow, Kroger would not comment on the matter citing the pending litigation, NBC reported.

Both women “believe in the literal interpretation of the Bible” and “hold a sincerely held religious belief that homosexuality is a sin,” the suit states, and that each “believed wearing the logo showed her advocacy of the [LGBTQ] community, which she could not do.”

The women are seeking financial compensation for “emotional pain and suffering, humiliation, inconvenience, and loss of enjoyment of life,” but the amount of damages was not revealed. The suit also calls for reforms to store policies.

Kroger, based in Cincinnati, is one of the nation’s largest grocery retailers.