A public pool in Emerainville, France, has drawn national attention by banning the Burkini. The Burkini is a popular swimsuit for Muslim women as it provides the modesty required for Muslim women. Proponents claim the rule is discriminatory toward the Muslim faith.
Local authorities say the ban is appropriate because regulations prohibit garments larger than “standard swimsuits”. The authority says men’s surfer swimsuits are also banned therefore there is no discrimination taking place according to them.
The suit, which consists of a trouser, head covering, and tunic is trademarked and distributed by Ahilda, a clothing company based in Sydney, Australia. They have also designed and market ladies sportswear for Muslim women.
Dress codes are common in many business sectors, particularly gyms and restaurants. Although safety and aesthetic reasons may be behind the codes federal laws may trump the business policy in some cases.
In prohibiting discrimination based on religion, The Civil Rights Act of 1964 needs to be considered in the enforcement of dress codes and other rules. Courts have continually rules that reasonable accommodations are required to keep business policies from being discriminatory.
The term “reasonable accommodations” is often thought of as an employee centered responsibility. Business owners must also consider making reasonable accommodations for customers as a vehicle to deliver superior customer service.
Managers are the key to these accommodations, particularly in chain retail operations. McDonald’s Hamburgers in heavily Muslim Dearborn, Michigan, found it necessary to get permission from the chain to use Halal beef in their burgers to meat Muslim food standards. This mirrors Burger King’s addition of a Veggie Burger to their menu for Hindu and other vegan cultures.
Businesses located in neighborhoods with emerging populations need to take the time to review their products, services, and policies to make sure they are in alignment with their customer base.