Male minister who won't wear makeup sues for religious bias

Boy, the Detroit area seems to be in the front lines for the gender-identity wars.

As I've previously reported here, here, here, and here, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has a high-profile gender-stereotyping lawsuit going on against an area funeral home chain based on its discharge of a transgender employee. The funeral home is represented by the Alliance Defending Freedom, a traditional-values public interest firm, so it is shaping up to be a real donnybrook.

ManinEyelashes.flickrCC.KnarBedian
Not the Rev. Barry Jones.

Now, the Detroit Free Press reports that a local minister -- who is also a licensed esthetician and works as a makeup artist -- is suing for religious discrimination after he was demoted by M.A.C. Cosmetics, Inc. According to the lawsuit, the Rev. Barry Jones, an ordained elder at the Gordy Memorial Church of God in Christ in River Rouge (Rouge - heh), was required to use beauty products as part of his training, and those products included eye shadow, as well as "blush, lipstick, and false eyelashes."

The Rev. Jones was ok with using concealer, but he believes it is a sin for a man to look like a woman, citing Deuteronomy 22:5. When he refused to wear makeup, he was refused certification as a full-time M.A.C. makeup artist and had to work as a free-lancer. He says he hasn't been able to get a makeup gig since.

According to the Rev. Jones, an M.A.C. trainer told him that M.A.C. artists had to "experience" the beauty products. However, it appears that the trainees may have been required to practice applying makeup on each other, so that may have been the real problem.

The lawsuit has been filed in federal court in Detroit, and it even includes a religious "disparate impact" claim.

Could the Reverend have been accommodated? Should he have been? Tell us what you think!

Image Credit: From flickr, Creative Commons license, by Knar Bedian.

Robin Shea has 30 years' experience in employment litigation, including Title VII and the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act (including the Amendments Act). 
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