OCALA, Fla. - An Ocala man believes he was fired from his job as a server at Denny’s because of his religious headwear.
Marlondejuan Guy said he was wearing his Kufi, a Muslim prayer cap, the day the Ocala Denny’s hired him last August.
“When I walk down the street and someone sees me with this, they know I’m Muslim and I’m proud of that. I will die wearing this,” he said.
Guy told Fox 35 that after a few weeks on the job, management began pressuring him to take it off.
“They said, ‘We’re going to have to put you on the night shift if you don’t want to remove your covering because we can’t have you on a day shift with that on your head,’ ” Guy remembered.
Guy felt he was being punished, taken off the “money shift” because of his kufi.
Another former Denny’s employee, who didn’t want to be identified, said she witnessed 5 or 6 different occasions when management asked guy to take off his kufi.
“If he removed his hat,” the woman said, “He could work dayshift or whenever he’d like, he just had to take off his hat.”
Finally, last September, management gave Guy a letter that said, “If you do not conform to the proper dress code within the next 14 days, we will have to terminate your employment with the company.”
Guy refused and filed an EEOC complaint for discrimination. He was later fired.
According to Guy’s attorney Michael Hanna, companies are required by federal law to provide “reasonable exceptions” to dress codes for religious articles.
“Companies cannot prohibit an employee from wearing religious headwear based on any kind of arbitrary dress code policy,” Hanna said.
A franchise manager wouldn’t comment about Guy’s case, referring Fox to Denny’s corporate office, which sent us a statement saying in part, “While we have policies regarding uniforms, we certainly have a process for deviation from uniform standards, including religious accommodation requests. We do not tolerate actions of discrimination and we take any finding to the contrary very seriously."
While Denny’s investigates the allegations, Guy and his attorney are working with CAIR Florida to file a lawsuit against this franchise for religious discrimination.