Philadelphia Employment Law News

The EEOC's Focus on Muslim Discrimination At Work

It speaks volumes that the only religious guidance the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has posted on its website regarding a specific religion is Muslim discrimination at work.

After September 11, 2001, the EEOC says that it has documented a significant increase in the number of charges alleging workplace discrimination based on religion and national origin. Many of the charges have been filed by individuals who are or are perceived to be Muslim, Arab, South Asian, or Sikh. The following are three common examples of the type of discrimination individuals in these groups face.

Hiring and Discharge

A Bangladesh woman applies for a job at a bakery and had a phone interview with the manager. The manager offered the woman the job over the phone, but when the employee showed up with a hijab, the manager brusquely stated he had found someone else. Employers may not refuse to hire someone because of his or her religion, national origin, race or color. Reasons like customers may be turned off by a hijab or that co-workers would be uncomfortable working with you are not valid defenses to illegal discrimination.

Harassment

An Arab American man was a salesman at a car retailer. After September 11, his coworkers stopped talking to him and called him names like "camel jockey." If the harassment is persistent, this may be a case of illegal harassment. Employers should have policies in place to prevent harassment and failure to stop such behavior can lead to liability.

Religious Accommodation

A computer specialist at a software company is required to attend prayer services at his mosque for a short period on Friday afternoons. This conflicts with his work hours; however, the employer may be required to look into whether it can make reasonable accommodations for the employee to have time off. If the accommodation doesn't pose an undue hardship on the employer, the employer may be required to allow the employee time off to pray. Failure to do so, may be discrimination.

These are just three common examples of Muslim discrimination at work. If you believe you have been discriminated at work because of your religion, race, or national origin no matter what they are, you should contact an employment attorney to learn your rights.

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