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Jury Awards $5 Million to Muslim Woman in AT&T Religious Discrimination Lawsuit

May 15, 2012

AT&T settled a religious discrimination lawsuit this month, after the communication company was sued by a Kansas City employee who claimed that she was harassed at her job after she converted to Islam in 2005.

Costa Mesa-based labor and employment attorney Vincent Howard has been following the discrimination lawsuit settlement announcement, that awarded Susann Bashir punitive damages in the amount of $5 million, along with lost wages in the amount of $120,000, along with other actual damages. Despite the award from the jury, Bashir will likely receive less than the reported $5 million due to Missouri laws, which a judge will later determine.

According to the religious discrimination lawsuit, Bashir worked for ten years as an AT&T fiber optics network builder, before she was fired from her job--where she reportedly made $70,000 per year.

Bashir claimed that after converting to the Islam religion in 2005, her work environment became immediately hostile, where she received harassing comments from her colleagues about her new religion, and her religious headscarf. Bashir's suit claimed that she was shocked by the discriminatory attention, as prior to converting, no one cared about what she wore or what her religion was.

After converting to Islam, Bashir claimed that she endured constant religious discrimination in her final three years of employment at the company--having to endure discriminatory questions, derogatory statements, and being called names like a terrorist or towelhead. She also claimed that the abuse came to a boiling point when her boss grabbed her headscarf in order to expose her hair.

Bashir claimed that the religious harassment continued until she filed a complaint with the U.S. Equal Employment Commission, and the EEOC launched an investigation into the claims. Bashir reportedly became so stressed that she asked for a transfer or removal from her position--but neither happened and she was later fired.

As Vincent Howard has stated in a previous Riverside employment attorney blog, under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, it is against the law to discrimination against people who belong to organized and traditional religions, and sincerely hold moral, religious, or ethical beliefs in any aspect of employment--which includes employment hiring, job assignments, job termination, promotions, job training, layoffs, and any other terms or conditions of employment.

Under Title VII, an employer must reasonably accommodate an employee's sincere beliefs and religious practices such as wearing religious attire like a headscarf, unless it causes undue hardship for the company, and the business operation of the company. The EEOC states that no employee should be forced to choose between their religious beliefs and their job.

In the cities throughout Orange County, California, contact managing attorney Vincent Howard at Howard Law, PC today.

AT&T to pay Muslim woman $5M in harassment case, The Huffington Post, May 5, 2012

Related Web Resources:

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

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

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California Muslim Alleges Religious Harassment and Racial Discrimination in the Workplace, California Employment Lawyers Blog, January 5, 2012

'Desperate Housewives' Sued for Wrongful Termination by Hollywood Television Star, California Employment Lawyers Blog, September 2, 2011

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

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