According to an article by Steven Greenhouse in The New York Times, that’s around 25% of the 3,386 religious discrimination claims filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) in the year ending September 30, 2009–an awful lot considering that Muslims make up less than 2% of the population in the United States. It’s also 20% more complaints than were filed by Muslims in 2008 and 60% more than in 2005.
The complaints allege harassment and other forms of discrimination that range from name-calling to the disruption of prayer breaks. The EEOC has filed some pretty high profile lawsuits in response to some of the complaints. In August, for example, the EEOC brought a suit against JBS Swift on behalf of 160 Somali immigrants, claiming that “supervisors and workers had cursed them for being Muslim; thrown blood, meat and bones at them; and interrupted their prayer breaks.” Other companies against which the EEOC has filed include Abercrombie & Fitch and a Four Points by Sheraton Hotel.
Greenhouse ends his piece with a story about Imane Boudlal, who is from Casablanca, Morocco. My own sense is that Ms. Boudlal is being unreasonable, but I am curious what others think–and let me also say here that anyone who tries in discussing this post to use Boudlal’s story to undercut the overall point of this post or of Greenhouse’s article will be banned from this thread. Here are the last three paragraph’s of the article:
Imane Boudlal, a 26-year-old from Casablanca, Morocco, had worked for two years as a hostess at the Storytellers Cafe at Disneyland in Anaheim, Calif., when she decided she would begin wearing her hijab at work during Ramadan last month. Ms. Boudlal said her supervisors told her that if she insisted on wearing the scarf, she could work either in back or at a telephone job. She refused and has not worked while the dispute continues.
Disney officials said her head scarf clashed with the restaurant’s early-1900s theme, and they proposed a period hat with some scarf that would fall over her ears. Ms. Boudlal rejected that as un-Muslim. “They wanted to hide the fact that I looked Muslim,” she said.
Michael Griffin, a Disney spokesman, said the company’s “cast members” agree to comply with its appearance guidelines. “When cast members request exceptions to our policies for religious reasons, we strive to make accommodations,” he said, adding that Disney has accommodated more than 200 such requests since 2007.
Cross-posted on It’s All Connected.