McDonald's franchise refused to hire Jewish man with beard, lawsuit says

EEOC complaint claims franchisee denied man employment because of his religion

PEMBROKE PARK, Fla. – A federal lawsuit claims a Florida McDonald's refused to hire a Jewish man because he had a beard.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission filed the lawsuit Tuesday in Orlando federal court.

According to the complaint, Morteza Javadi interviewed in 2016 for a maintenance worker position at a McDonald's franchise in Longwood, about 15 miles north of Orlando.

The lawsuit alleges store manager Joseph Torres told Javadi, who is a Hasidic Jew, he would have to shave his beard to be in compliance with McDonald's grooming and appearance policy.

When Javadi explained that he couldn't shave his beard because of his religious beliefs and instead offered to wear a beard net, Torres told him he couldn't hire him unless he shaved.

The lawsuit claims Javadi was "denied employment because of his religion." It seeks a jury trial and permanent injunction against the McDonald's franchise "from discriminating against job applicants on the basis of their religion."

Oshia Gainer Banks, lead attorney for the EEOC, told Local10.com that a complaint was filed with the agency, which investigated and rendered a cause determination. She said the lawsuit was filed only after the parties underwent a conciliation process, which she declined to discuss.

The lawsuit was filed against the Eustis-based Chalfont & Associates Group, which owns the franchise, and not McDonald's.

Attempts to contact the franchisee for comment were unsuccessful.