Raleigh, N.C. — Belk Inc. has agreed to settle a federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission lawsuit that alleged the chain's Crabtree Valley Mall department store fired a woman because of her religious beliefs.
The lawsuit alleges that Myra Jones-Abid was working as a gift wrapper at Belk's in November 2008 when store managers ordered her to wear a Santa hat and Christmas-themed apron during the holiday season.
Jones-Abid is a Jehovah's Witness, and her religious practices prohibit her from celebrating holidays like Christmas, according to the lawsuit. When she explained why she couldn't wear the hat and apron, store managers fired her, the suit states.
Under the settlement, Belk will pay Jones-Abid $55,000, remove references to the dispute from her personnel file and provide a neutral employment reference for her. The company also agreed to implement a policy to accommodate employees' religious beliefs and to provide annual training for managers.