A bank has apologized to a Muslim woman denied service in December because she was wearing a hijab, but has also defended its decision.
When Safa Magid went to Community Bank of the Bay to make a deposit, a teller refused to serve her, explaining that the bank's policy prohibiting people from wearing hats included head scarves.
"The woman asked if I could take off my scarf," Magid said Thursday. "And I said, 'No, I'm not going to take off my scarf.' Then, she said she couldn't serve me because I'm wearing a scarf."
Magid then tried to explain that she wore the scarf for religious reasons, but that a second bank employee confirmed the "no hat" ban included Magid's scarf.
Magid, who had visited the Broadway bank previously without incident, closed her account. She later sought help from the Council on American-Islamic Relations.
"(The bank) immediately recognized that there was an error, but I think it points to a deeper problem," said Agnes Chong, a Bay Area coordinator for the civil rights organization. The council has called attention to similar bank practices across the country.
The president of the Oakland bank blamed the incident on an "overzealous" employee who was "not exercising good judgment." . . .
Born and raised in Oakland, and having worn a hijab for many years, Magid said she has never before faced discrimination based on her attire.
A second-year resident in an internal medicine program, Magid said she was stunned by the actions of a bank she had specifically chosen for its environmentally friendly business philosophy.
Magid said she appreciated the bank's apology but was not entirely satisfied. (MORE)