Religious Diversity News

2 Iraqi Doctors Sue A&M, Allege Racial, Religious Bias

Author: Mary Flood

Source: The Houston Chronicle

http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/metropolitan/6023748.html

Two Iraqi doctors who fled to the United States to avoid persecution have filed a lawsuit against Texas A&M, saying they were regularly debased and that co-workers threw animal feces and urine on their prayer rug.

In a discrimination and retaliation lawsuit filed in Houston federal court, two married doctors, Mundhir Ridha and Saeeda Ali Muhsen, say they endured intolerable harassment because of their national origin, race and religion. They sued the school, several of its divisions and five former co-workers. Their lawyer said others at the school have been treated badly because of their background.

“The folks at A&M treated them horribly because they looked different, ate different food and spoke differently and because they are from Iraq and Muslim,” said the couple’s Houston lawyer, Shane McClelland.

McClelland said Texas A&M did its own investigation of the matter and found there was a hostile environment in which unnecessarily harsh, abrasive and insensitive criticisms were tolerated. But the investigation nevertheless found that wasn’t discrimination the school would address.

He said other foreign students have suffered similar humiliations, and many are frightened their careers could be ruined if they complain.

Lane Stephenson, spokesman for Texas A&M, said it is policy not to discuss pending legal matters. “I can categorically state it’s the university’s policy not to discriminate against anyone,” he said.

2003 Shows Increase in Charges of Religious Discrimination

Source: The Christian Science Monitor

http://www.csmonitor.com/2004/0412/p14s01-wmgn.html

On April 12, 2004 The Christian Science Monitor reported, “Aiming to catch more customers, Bank One Corp. recently opened its Phoenix supermarket branches on Sundays – one of the busiest grocery shopping days of the week. But when bank employees learned of the new shift, not all cheered. One teller refused to work the hours, telling his supervisors it violated his religious beliefs…

The employee’s religion-versus-work dilemma highlights a growing challenge in the American workplace. Disputes over providing religious accommodations at work have increased – not only for Christians but also for America’s increasingly diverse religious adherents. And the burden falls hardest on small businesses… The US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in fiscal year 2003 received 2,532 charges alleging religious discrimination – a 75 percent jump over the 1,449 complaints filed in 1993.”

Accommodation of Religious Employees Can Be a Balancing Act

Source: The Atlanta Journal and Constitution

On April 8, 2001, The Atlanta Journal and Constitution reported on the difficulty businesses sometimes have satisfying Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which requires employees to accommodate their employees’ religious beliefs. “The employer must try to balance an employee’s commitment to
religious fidelity with workplace propriety and business needs,” as well as with the need to avoid offending other employees.

ACLU Program Will Protect Muslims In FBI Questioning

Author: Tim Townsend

Source: St. Louis Post-Dispatch

http://www.stltoday.com/stltoday/news/stories.nsf/religion/story/392EC8E5A63A468F862576F8000070D0?OpenDocument

Adil Imdad, 41, moved to the United States as a teenager from his native 
Pakistan in 1981. Five years later, he became an American citizen, and in 1995, 
he moved to St. Louis to pursue a master’s degree in environmental engineering 
at Washington University.

Imdad loves his adopted country. He also loves Islam, and his story embodies 
the reason the American Civil Liberties Union of Eastern Missouri is launching 
the Muslim Rights Project. The program, which ACLU officials say may be its 
first nationwide, will provide volunteer attorneys for Muslims questioned by 
law enforcement officers.

Imdad is a devout Muslim. He wears a long beard, in honor of Islam’s prophets. 
His forehead is occasionally bruised from bowing to the floor in frequent 
prayer. He travels to Pakistan to see his family there, and to Saudi Arabia for 
the Muslim pilgrimage known as hajj. He’s a leader at the Bilal mosque on St. 
Louis University’s campus. 

ACLU Wants Info on Questioning of Muslims, Arabs

Source: The Mercury News

Wire Service: AP

http://www.mercurynews.com/mld/mercurynews/news/local/states/california/the_valley/9980263.htm

On October 21, 2004 the Associated Press reported, “the American Civil Liberties Union sued the FBI on Thursday, trying to get more information about the agency’s questioning of Muslims and Arabs as it investigates the possibility of pre-election terror attacks. The ACLU, which describes the unannounced interviews at homes, workplaces and mosques ‘interrogations,’ is seeking internal documents under the Freedom of Information Act about whether the government is protecting the constitutional rights of those interviewed.”

Administaff And Cable TV Provider Conn-X Sued By EEOC for Religious Bias

Author: Staff Writer

Source: Trading Markets

http://www.tradingmarkets.com/.site/news/Stock%20News/2623173/

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) today announced a lawsuit against staffing giant Administaff, Inc. and Conn-X, LLC, which provides cable service in the Baltimore metropolitan area, for engaging in religious discrimination against employees.

In its suit, the EEOC charges that joint employers Conn-X, LLC, a Florida corporation with an office in Edgewood, Md., and Administaff, Inc., a Texas corporation, subjected Scott Jacobson and Joey Jacobson to physical and verbal harassment because of their religion, Judaism. The EEOC asserts that beginning in September 2005 and continuing throughout their employment, both Jacobsons, who are brothers, were called “dirty Jew,” “dumb Jew,” and other anti-Semitic slurs by managers and coworkers.

After 7/7, Muslim Man Starts Company Promoting Diversity in the Workplace

Source: BBC News

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/england/west_yorkshire/5153614.stm

On July 7, 2006 BBC News reported, “The London bombings proved to be a watershed in the life of Jamil Ahmed, a 35-year-old Muslim from Leeds.
The father-of-five from Harehills said the shock of 7/7 and the bombers’ links to his home city forced him to reassess the whole direction of his life.

He was inspired to quit his job to set up his own company promoting ethnic diversity in the workplace.

And he also believes that, far from alienating Muslims, the bombings have led to a wider understanding of Islam.

The events of 7/7 even forced him to reassess his faith, which he said has been strengthened as a result.

‘A year ago I was worried that the tragedy in London would create polarisation of communities, but the reaction of the wider British community has not been the way many people expected,’ he said…
‘It was actually something that brought people together to say we have all been affected by this. This is an opportunity, through very unfortunate circumstances, to create more understanding.'”

After September 11: Bias and Backlash in the Workplace

Source: The Washington Post

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A33151-2002Mar3.html

On March 4, 2002, The Washington Post featured the article “Backlash Changes Form, Not Function: Sept. 11 Aftereffects Include Quiet Sting Of Bigotry, Some Say.” It explained that while violent hate crimes have decreased, bias in the schools, workplace, and public life have continued. The article noted that “The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has received so many allegations of illegal bias against Middle Eastern, Muslim and South Asian workers that it has created a category, Code Z, to track them. It has received more than 300 complaints since Sept. 11 — and that doesn’t include similar cases filed in state or local government offices.” However, the article continued, “Those trying to track discrimination tied to the Sept. 11 attacks say the task can be complex. Reports of employment discrimination, for example, often rise during a recession, because more jobs are cut overall.”

After the Attacks, Tech Workers Face Challenges

Source: USA TODAY

http://www.usatoday.com/life/cyber/tech/2001/10/17/tech-visa-worker-woes.htm

On October 17, 2001, USA TODAY reported “Tech visa workers feel heat from attacks, layoffs.” The article notes that “It’s a tense time for…Asian and Middle Eastern workers in the United States on H-1B visas. They came in large numbers in recent years to fill high-tech jobs. Many came from India, and they are predominately Hindus. But tensions � already heightened in the workplace with massive tech industry layoffs � have risen since Sept. 11.”

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