Eeoc And Kumar V. Gate Gourmet Essays Example

Type of paper: Essay

Topic: Workplace, Employee, United States, Law, Washington, Employment, Gate, Criminal Justice

Pages: 2

Words: 550

Published: 2020/10/05

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission was signed into law by President Lyndon B. Johnson and falls under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. It was known as a “Toothless Tiger” until the early 1970’s, but it nevertheless still shaped legislative powers once devising “’a filing system [to] determine which complaints appeared to be valid charges,’” according to an EEOC attorney in the beginning years (U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity (EEOC), n.d.). The EEOC also has overarching jurisdiction of various state laws, which is seen clearly in Kumar v. Gate Gourmet, a suit brought in front of the Washington State Supreme Court and settled on behalf of the plaintiff in May 2014. What was at stake was violations of Washington’s Law Against Discrimination (WLAD) because of employer Gate Gourmet’s refusal to accommodate employees’ “sincerely held religious beliefs [to] observe dietary restrictions” (American Civil Liberties Union of Washington State (ACLU-WA), 2015).
Employer Gate Gourmet provides food services for railroads and airlines globally, and in their SeaTac Airport facility, and for security reasons, they require workers to not bring their own food to work. Offering only a ½ hour meal break did not reasonably allow workers to seek food from other vendors, and they therefore had to eat food provided by Gate Gourmet (ACLU-WA, 2015). Various employees noted that the two main meal portions offered by the company had either pork products in the meat selection and the vegetarian selection contained “animal by-products,” as alleged by employees (The Supreme Court of the State of Washington (SCSW), 2014). The company agreed initially to provide the employees meals to meet their religious dietary restrictions, but then “reverted to using offensive foods without informing employees”. When the employees again went to the company, the company “refused to alter the menu”. The employees filed under WLAD to a district court, which held for the Gate Gourmet by dismissing the case. Under appeal to the Washington State Supreme Court, the court found for the employees (, 2014).
One of the interesting pivots of this case was that the plaintiffs only charged discrimination under the WLAD provision. Citing “negligent infliction of emotional distress” under WLAD, the plaintiffs specifically chose not to invoke “claims under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, but reserves the employees’ right to do so in the future” (SCSW, 2014). Title VII prevents many types of discrimination (e.g., Age, Disability, National Origin), and one main part falls under the general rubric of religious discrimination (EEOC, n.d). The Washington State law, which the plaintiffs filed under, “RCW 49.60 is a state law that protects all people in Washington from unfair and discriminatory practices in employment . . .,” and this includes religious discrimination (Washington State Human Rights Commission, n.d.). When a hyper-link in the Human Rights Commission’s website for the law is clicked, it immediately links to the EEOC website, demonstrating precedent with federal law intertwined with state law.
Therefore, under the Washington State law against discriminatory practices, the plaintiffs filed under “two distinct theories”. The first was that the employer failed “to reasonably accommodate the employees’ religious practices” and the second related to what was claimed as “a disparate impact on employees who adhere to certain religions”. One of the sticking points of the case was that the employer claimed the 1949 law was not violated, as it originally only contained relief against discrimination due to “race, creed, color, or national origin”. However, the Supreme Court found that “’creed’” was “long equated with . . . the term ‘religion’ in Title VII . . .” The Court also found that the Washington State Human Rights Commission could amend the law as necessary, and under Title VII it “was amended to create a private cause of action against any employer engaging in an ‘unfair practice’” (SCSW, 2014).
What Kumar v. Gate Gourmet establishes is a clear link between federal and state laws, and how federal law not only bolsters state law, but it also trumps state law, giving much needed teeth to the act, as originally intended. Religious discrimination in the American workplace also includes “an employer . . . to reasonably accommodate an employee’s religious beliefs or practices” as long as it does not create more than “a minimal burden on the operations of the employer’s business” (EEOC, n.d.). The Washington State Supreme Court found that the burden to “reasonably accommodate religious practices” did not burden Gate Gourmet by placing upon it “’undue hardship’” (SCSW, 2014), and thusly, even in contemporary times, providing more “’teeth’” to the federal law by review of yet another case which “’appeared to be valid charges,’” (EEOC, n.d), and in the case of the employees at Gate Gourmet, they were.


American Civil Liberties Union of Washington, Inc. 2015. Website. Retrieved
The Supreme Court of the State of Washington. 2014. James Kumar, Ranveer Singh, Asegedew Gefe, Abbas Kosymov, individuals, on behalf of themselves and all others similarly situated, Appellants, v. Gate Gourmet, Inc., a Delaware Corporation, Respondent. No. 88062-0 En Banc Filed May 22 2014. Retrieved
U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. n.d. Website. Retrieved
Washington State Human Rights Commission. n.d. Website. Retrieved

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