Suit says Muslim wrongfully terminated for requesting accommodation
(COLUMBUS, OHIO, 4/11/2013) - The Columbus chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, Ohio (CAIR-Ohio) announced this week that it has filed a federal employment discrimination lawsuit in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Ohio against Exel, Inc., which is a wholly owned entity of Deutsche Post DHL.
The plaintiff, Yusuf Sufi, approached CAIR-Columbus after being fired by Exel in May, 2012. Sufi was fired for requesting a prayer accommodation in order to attend his Friday afternoon prayer services. In June 2012, CAIR-Columbus filed a charge of discrimination on behalf of Mr. Sufi with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). Exel declined to participate in the EEOC mediation process with Sufi.
The federal complaint filed today states that Sufi repeatedly asked Exel to provide him with an accommodation under which he could attend his Friday afternoon prayer services. Fridays were not a regularly scheduled work day for Sufi, but Exel management often assigned him to overtime on Fridays. Sufi proposed various accommodations to Exel's management, including combining his breaks, taking unpaid time off, and requesting not to be scheduled for overtime work on Fridays. Exel's management refused to consider any accommodation proposed by Sufi, and his employment was ultimately terminated by Exel in May 2012 when he asked for the accommodation again.
Both state and federal law requires employers to accommodate the religious practices of their employees unless it creates an undue burden on the company.
"This is not the first time Exel has discriminated against employees when they have asked for religious accommodation. Our office filed 18 charges of discrimination with the EEOC last month relating to the denial of religious accommodation for Muslim employees who worked at the same facility at which Mr. Sufi worked," said CAIR-Ohio Legal Director Jennifer Nimer. "This pattern of discriminatory behavior continues to be a problem at Exel."
According to the EEOC, 21 percent of religious discrimination complaints in 2011 involved bias against Muslim workers.
CAIR offers a booklet, called "An Employer's Guide to Islamic Religious Practices," to help employers gain a better understanding of Islam and Muslims in the workplace.
CAIR is America's largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization. Its mission is to enhance the understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.
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