As many Indiana residents know, it is illegal for an employer to discriminate against an employee or an applicant for a job on the basis of race, national origin, sex, age, disability, genetic information or religion. Nevertheless, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission recently investigated a claim of religious discrimination by Ellicot City assisted living centers against a Muslim job applicant.
Many Muslim women wear a headscarf called a hijab. Sources say that the job applicant filed an employment discrimination claim after being asked to remove her hijab during an interview. The women had been granted an interview with Morningside House for a nurse position. The woman was asked to remove her hijab allegedly because the company claimed it would interfere with her job duties.
The woman said that she had always worn her hijab as a student and professional, and it had never interfered with her job performance. Ten nurses were hired and the woman claiming discrimination was not one of them.
Ultimately, the EEOC filed suit under the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The Act requires employees to accommodate religious beliefs of employees unless they cause undue hardship. According to the EEOC, the hijab would not create any undue hardship and the request to remove the hijab was made because of stereotypes about her religion.
In the end, the Morningside house must now pay $25,000, recommit to religious freedom and submit any future complaints of religious discrimination to the EEOC for two years. In addition, the judgment requires the managers, supervisors and hiring staff at Morningside to attend training sessions in religious discrimination.
Source: Ellicott City Patch, "Ellicott City Business Pays in Religious Discrimination Suit," Brandie Jefferson, Aug. 7, 2012