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California Muslim Alleges Religious Harassment and Racial Discrimination in the Workplace

January 5, 2012

Our Costa Mesa labor and employment attorney blog recently covered the topic of religious discrimination in the workplace, while discussing a religious discrimination lawsuit that involved a Muslim security guard--who sued his employer for pressuring him to shave facial hair while working for a security company. The employee claimed that his facial hair is part of his Islamic faith, and under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, the security company engaged in discrimination and retaliation by firing the employee for not shaving his beard.

In related California religious and racial discrimination lawsuit news, a Muslim Employee at the Human Assistance Department for Sacramento County, has recently claimed in an employment lawsuit that he has consistently suffered from harassment and discrimination based on race and religion since the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.

According to the lawsuit, filed last year, Abdur-Rahim Wasi, an African American employee, claims that since the terrorist attacks, he has been called a variety of discriminatory names including, "Taliban," "Osama Bin Laden," and "Al-Qaida." Wasi claims that the county managers have failed to stop the racial and religious harassment, and have even gone as far as to mock his employment concern. The lawsuit states that after Wasi filed an harassment complaint, his program manager proceeded to wear a Muslim head covering at a Halloween party in jest.

In his complaint to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, Wasi claims that six months after starting this job with the county in 2001, when the terrorist attacks occurred, his co-workers started questioning Muslims and harassing him by saying that he was a member of the Taliban. Wasi also reportedly endured other pranks and jokes over the years that were allegedly associated with his faith. When he reported the harassment and discrimination to his superiors, he claims that he was told that his colleagues were just joking.

Wasi works as a human services specialist for the county department and also claims that the county has failed to provide reasonable accommodations for his religious faith as a Muslim--after turning down his requests to leave work early on every third Friday in order to observe an Islamic ceremony, even after he offered to make up the time by working alternate hours.

According to Howard Law's labor and employment attorney Vincent Howard, under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, it is against the law to harass or discriminate against individuals who belong to traditional and organized religions, and who sincerely hold religious, ethical or moral beliefs, in any aspect of employment--which includes hiring, firing, promotions, employment training, job layoffs, as well as any other employment terms and conditions.

Vincent Howard has also discussed that employers are required under federal law to reasonably accommodate an employee's request to practice their religious beliefs, by making adjustments in the employment environment that are reasonable, unless allowing the employee to practice their religion causes a burden on the business operations of the employer. Religious accommodations in the workplace can include providing flexible schedules, modifying work practices and policies, and offering job reassignments as well as job shift substitutions, in order to allow an employee to sincerely practice their faith. As our Riverside employment lawyers blog has reported previously, employers must also reasonably accommodate an employee's physical appearance, including wearing head coverings, certain hairstyles, or respecting certain grooming practices.

In the cities of Los Alamitos, Orange, and Seal Beach, California, contact Vincent Howard at Howard Law, PC today.

Muslim worker alleges religious harassment, McClatchy Newspapers, January 4, 2012

Related Web Resources:

U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, (EEOC): Religious Discrimination

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, (EEOC)

Related Blog Posts:

Religious Discrimination in the Workplace and Reasonable Accommodation, California Employment Lawyers Blog , August 18, 2011

Abercrombie Hit With Another Religious Discrimination Lawsuit over Hijab, California Employment Lawyers Blog, July 7, 2011

Muslim Files EEOC Discrimination Complaint Over Disney's Costume Policy--in Order to Wear Hijab, California Employment Lawyers Blog, August 26, 2010

EEOC Files Religious Discrimination Lawsuit Against Abercrombie & Fitch--Muslim Teen Denied Rights, California Employment Lawyers Blog, September 23, 2009

Muslim Housekeeper Fired for Wearing Head Scarf--Wins Religious Discrimination Lawsuit Settlement, California Employment Lawyers Blog, December 21, 2009