Friday, October 12, 2007
In Francis v. Mineta, No. 06-1293 (3rd Cir. October 11, 2007), the Third Circuit has held that a Transportation Security Administration (TSA) Security Screener does not have a Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) for being discharged for wearing dreadlocks. Instead, Title VII is the exclusive remedy.
Here is some of the opinion:
Francis alleges that he informed Betz that he would not cut his dreadlocks, and told him that the refusal to cut his dreadlocks was based on his religious beliefs. Francis further alleges that Betz then ordered him to sign a separation agreement, terminating his employment. Thereafter, Francis filed the instant suit in the District Court . . . .
[The Senate report on RFRA] explains: “[n]othing in this act shall be construed as affecting religious accommodation under title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.”
Based on previous precedent and legislative history, the opinion seems perfectly correct. It should be noted that were it otherwise, federal employees could back a run-around the administrative scheme involving the EEOC established under Title VII. Although some employees are able to do this for race discrimination claims under Section 1981, federal employees have long been held not to be able to do avoid the Title VII administrative scheme under Brown v. GSA.
Hat Tip: John Sargent