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CAIR-Chicago Attorney Settles Two Headscarf Related Discrimination Cases

Feature 289 CAIR-Chicago attorneys Kevin Vodak and Rima Kapitan settled two employment discrimination cases last month involving Muslim women and their right to wear the traditional head scarf, also known as the hijab.

The first case involved a school cafeteria worker in Berkley, Illinois, who turned to CAIR-Chicago for help in filing a lawsuit against her employer who she claims unfairly monitored and wrongfully terminated her for practicing her religion.

The incident started after the Muslim woman decided to wear her head scarf to work in September of 2007. As a result, her supervisor began probing her actions. She also received indirect, inappropriate comments from a manager about her head scarf.

In addition, after she had taken a day off to celebrate a Muslim holiday, her employers decided to transfer her to another school without notification or an explanation. Her supervisor assured her she will not be transferred and persuaded her to stay. Her employer then terminated her for staying.

In the second discrimination case, a Muslim woman working for a medical supplies company in Oak Brook, Illinois, also began to suffer from discrimination after choosing to start wearing the hijab in 2006.

The company’s manager had a discussion with the woman, saying that wearing her scarf would affect her sales. Despite the manager’s suggestion, she continued to wear the head scarf. Her superiors had another talk with her and told her to stop wearing the head scarf because it is making customers uncomfortable.

Soon, they began monitoring her actions closely on a daily basis which, according to the woman, is the procedure the company uses to force employees to quit. The regional manager also called an “emergency meeting” about her head scarf. She eventually grew tired of their efforts and decided to quit.

CAIR-Chicago will continue to provide assistance to anyone who is being stripped of their civil liberties.

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