Clashes over Muslim Religious Practices Cause Tensions at Work

February 2, 2001

Source: The Atlanta Journal and Constitution

On February 2, 2001, The Atlanta Journal and Constitution reported on "a line of workplace clashes accompanying an increase in metro Atlanta's Muslim population. At least 50,000 Muslims live in metro Atlanta, but advocates say the real number is higher...Muslims have quit or been fired in the past two years for having beards, wearing long skirts and head wraps or asking to take five-minute prayer breaks -- habits and practices that Islam asks of its followers." One example was the case of Shaheed Carter. After he took a job at Therrell High School in Atlanta last summer he told administrators that he wanted to go to mosque during his planning or lunch period on Fridays. "Federal law requires employers to accommodate an employee's religious practices if it does not cause 'undue hardship,' but Sharron Pitts, school system attorney, said Carter did not make his request until after the school year started," so they would not let him go. After a civil rights coordinator for the Council on American-Islamic Relations in Washington wrote on Carter's behalf, "the Atlanta public schools and Carter came up with a compromise...The school rearranged Carter's schedule, and he puts in a few extra hours during the week to make up the time."