CAIR: Texas Medical Group Denies Muslim Doctor Right to Hijab Muslim civil rights organization says ‘no hat’ policy must have religious exemption
(WASHINGTON, D.C., 10/30/09) - The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) today called on a major medical group in Texas to change its policy denying accommodation for Muslim employees who wear religious attire such as Islamic head scarves (hijab) or beards.
CAIR said a Muslim doctor being interviewed for a position with CareNow, a medical group with 22 facilities in the Dallas/Fort-Worth area, was told that a “no hat” policy would prohibit her from wearing hijab. She was also reportedly informed that CareNow prohibits employees from wearing beards. (Many Muslim men view wearing a beard as a religious requirement.)
In an e-mail to CareNow’s human resources department seeking confirmation of the denial of religious accommodation, the Muslim potential employee wrote:
“Being that I wear a head scarf to cover my hair as part of my religious practice, I felt very discriminated against. I have worked in many places that have a ‘no hat’ policy, and I have never been confronted with a problem regarding my head scarf. I can't imagine this being an issue with an organization like CareNow. Please confirm if this is really a policy at CareNow.”
An e-mail response from CareNow stated that the Muslim doctor had been given the correct information about the medical group’s denial of religious accommodation.
In a letter to CareNow, CAIR wrote:
“Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits employers from discriminating against individuals because of their religion in hiring, firing, and other terms and conditions of employment.The Act also requires employers to reasonably accommodate the religious practices of an employee, unless to do so would create an undue hardship upon the employer.CAIR has reviewed the facts of this case and determined that CareNow’s staff did not make an exemption to the ‘no-hat policy’ to accommodate [the applicant’s] religious practices, and thus is in direct violation of Title VII.”
CAIR is asking CareNow to 1) offer the Muslim applicant a position for which she is qualified and to allow her to wear her Islamic head scarf, 2) provide the applicant with a formal written apology, 3) clarify CareNow’s policy on religious accommodation issues and allow a religious exemption to the“no-hat” policy, 4) institute workplace sensitivity and diversity training for staff, and 5) compensate the Muslim applicant for the emotional distress she has suffered as a result of the discrimination.
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.