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Cloutier v. Costco Wholesale Corp.

United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit
390 F.3d 126 (1st Cir. 2004)


In 1997, Kimberly Cloutier (plaintiff) was hired by Costco Wholesale Corporation (Costco) (defendant). At the time, Cloutier had multiple ear piercings and tattoos. Over the next few years, Cloutier engaged in more body modifications, including facial piercings. In March 2001, Costco revised its dress code to prohibit all facial jewelry with the sole exception of earrings. Cloutier nevertheless continued to wear her eyebrow piercing. On June 25, 2001, Costco informed Cloutier that she needed to remove her eyebrow piercing. Cloutier refused and claimed that she was required to wear the piercing as a member of the Church of Body Modification. Costco offered to allow Cloutier to continue working if she temporarily covered the piercing with a band-aid or replaced the jewelry with a clear plastic retainer. Cloutier refused, claiming that her religion required her to visibly wear her facial jewelry at all times. Costco ultimately terminated Cloutier’s employment based on her refusal to comply with the dress code. Cloutier sued Costco under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII), 42 U.S.C. § 2000e, et seq., arguing that Costco had failed to accommodate her religious beliefs. The district court found that Costco had offered a reasonable accommodation to Cloutier when Costco requested that Cloutier cover her facial jewelry with a band-aid or wear a clear retainer and, therefore, had not failed to accommodate her under Title VII. Cloutier appealed.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Lipez, J.)

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