Greenfield Ind. Daycare owner faces religious discrimination charge

Indianapolis – The owner of House Kids Daycare in Greenfield, Indiana was issued a charge of religious discrimination today by the Indiana Civil Rights Commission after a former employee claims she was forced to engage in various activities that were against her religious beliefs.

The Complainant, who actively practices Hindu, is prohibited from eating, preparing, cooking or cleaning dishes that contain meat. However, despite making this accommodation request clear to the owner of House Kids Daycare prior to being hired in 1997, she was assigned to work in the kitchen in 2012 after previously serving as both a lead and assistant teacher.

The owner of House Kids Daycare asserts the transfer to the kitchen was a result of her refusal to sign up for a Credential in Early Childhood Development course. Despite the reasoning, as one would expect, Complainant’s move to the kitchen resulted in several instances of being forced to both handle and prepare various products containing meat.

One afternoon, after the complainant offered to prepare a vegetarian alternative due to her religious beliefs and inexperience of working with meat, the owner of House Kids Daycare became visibly angry and walked away.

Not soon after, the owner of House Kids Daycare terminated complainant for failing to wear a hairnet while substituting for another teacher during snack time. While the complainant does not deny her failure to wear a hairnet, or being previously warned about failing to do so, she provided pictorial time-stamped evidence showing other employees not wearing hairnets while working in the kitchen and serving children during snack time.

Following the state’s preliminary investigation, the Deputy Director of the Indiana Civil Rights Commission has issued a Notice of Finding stating that probable cause exists to believe an unlawful discriminatory practice occurred in this instance.

A finding of probable cause does not resolve a civil rights complaint. Rather, it means the State has concluded its preliminary investigation and determined there is sufficient evidence to support reasonable suspicion that the Indiana Civil Rights Law has been violated. The Indiana Civil Rights Law provides remedies, including compensatory damages and injunctive relief, such as changes in the employer’s policies and training.

The Indiana Civil Rights Commission enforces the Indiana civil rights laws and provides education and services to the public in an effort to ensure equal opportunity for all Hoosiers and visitors to the State of Indiana. For more information, contact Brad Meadows, ICRC Communications Manager, at (317) 232-2651.