Religious discrimination against Muslim women wearing a traditional headscarf known as the hijab is a perennial problem, according to officials at the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), which reports that in the first three months of 2010, more than 40 women in separate incidences complained about discrimination as a result of their wearing hijabs.
For instance, a 19-year old named Naseehah Barlaskar claims that she was denied a job at a local McDonald’s in Michigan because she insisted on wearing what her prospective manager called “that thing.” In response to this allegation, a McDonald’s spokesman issued the following statement: “McDonald’s has a strict policy prohibiting any form of discrimination. These allegations are not consistent with our policies.”
In San Francisco, a college student named Hani Khan sued a San Francisco clothing store owned by Abercrombie & Fitch. Khan alleges that her supervisors told her to remove her hijab in order to work at the store. She refused the instructions and was subsequently fired. Abercrombie & Fitch is no stranger to disputes about racial discrimination, gender discrimination, and other employment discrimination. In 2004, A&F had to pay out $50 million to a class of people who brought action via the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).
Although employment discrimination claims constitute the bulk of hijab-related discrimination complaints, the problem seems to be even broader in scope. For instance, CAIR reports that the Delaware DMV had to apologize to a 16-year-old driver’s license applicant after a DMV clerk (inaccurately) told her that she could not wear her hijab in her driver’s license photo.
Have you or a family member been victimized by religious or national origin discrimination while on a job interview or at work? If so, get a free and confidential consultation with the expert lawyers at Joseph & Kirschenbaum. Go to www.jhllp.com to learn more about the firm, or dial (212) 688-5640 to discuss your situation in confidence with a veteran employment discrimination attorney.