Not Proud

Supermarket giant Kroger slapped with lawsuit for forcing employees to wear rainbow symbols

A Kroger in Michigan. Via Wikimedia Commons

Former employees have launched a lawsuit against supermarket chain Kroger over the store’s insistence that store employees wear symbols supporting LGBTQ rights.

Brenda Lawson and Trudy Rickerd, both of whom worked at a Kroger in Conway, Arkansas, filed the suit September 14. The store fired both employees for violating company dress code when they refused to wear a rainbow heart on their aprons. Both have cited their religious beliefs as the reason for exemption.

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The Miami Herald reports both Lawson and Rickerd had made repeated requests to store management to either cover or remove the rainbow symbol. Both had their requests denied, and received disciplinary action from management for violating the store’s dress code. After several incidents, the store fired both employees. Rickerd had worked for Kroger since 2006; Lawson, since 2011.

“Although [Lawson and Rickerd] personally holds no animosity toward the individuals who comprise the LGBTQ community, the practices of that community violate [their] sincerely held religious belief,” the lawsuit reads. “[Lawson and Rickerd] believed wearing the logo showed [their] advocacy of the community, which [they] could not do.”

The lawsuit aims to provide Lawson and Rickerd with back pay and other compensation from their firing. It also requests Kroger set standards for religious freedom in the future.

Earlier this year, the Human Rights Campaign named Kroger one of the best companies to work for as an LGBTQ person, having won a perfect score on the Corporate Equality Index.