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Farmington restaurant settles claims of religious discrimination

FARMINGTON — A Farmington restaurant accused of religious discrimination has agreed to pay $25,000 to a former employee after a federal agency accused it of failing to accommodate the employee’s religious beliefs.

A federal judge signed off on a final judgement and consent decree between Blue Moon Diner Inc. and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission Friday afternoon, according to court documents.

The diner’s attorney cited the high cost of taking the case to court as a reason for the settlement.

J. Edward Hollington, Albuquerque-based attorney for Blue Moon Diner, stated his client believes the diner treated the employee fairly and did not discriminate against her.

“The company could not afford the enormous cost and expense of litigating the case and decided to use its resources to continue to service the community and move forward,” Hollington said.

The federal agency filed a lawsuit against Blue Monday on June 19 in the U.S. District Court for the District of New Mexico.

The lawsuit alleged Blue Moon Diner unlawfully discriminated against former employee Samantha Bandy by failing to accommodate her religious practices of wearing a hijab and violated the Civil Rights Act of 1964 by making her choose between her religious practice or the requirements of her employer, according to court documents.

Bandy will receive $2,500 for back pay and compensatory damages of $22,500. Blue Moon is required to pay her within 15 business days of the decree.

Blue Moon agrees to expunge Bandy’s employee personal file of references to the allegations in the case and provide a written reference, which co-owner Mike Ulrich provided and has signed as part of the final judgement.

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