A developer planning to build a Convention Center hotel in Downtown Indianapolis has come under fire from local Islamic advocates concerned that the company will discriminate against Muslim women here.

White Lodging Services Corp., one of the two developers of the proposed 1,000-room hotel, was recently sued in Kentucky for refusing to hire four Muslim women unless they worked without wearing a hijab, the traditional head covering for women mandated by Islamic religious teachings.

The Muslim Alliance of Indiana, the Islamic Society of North America and a union group called Unite Here have asked Mayor Bart Peterson to make several demands before the city gives White Lodging and its partner, REI Real Estate Services of Carmel, more than $48.5 million in public subsidies.

The advocates want White Lodging to meet with them, conduct diversity training for its employees, create protocols that prevent discrimination and allow its hotel employees to organize in unions. . .

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission filed a lawsuit last summer after it found no evidence that wearing the hijab would affect the women’s work performance.

The lawsuit accuses the company of illegal discrimination for refusing to accommodate the women’s religious practices. The women, who were sent by an employment agency, claim they were told they couldn’t work after they refused to remove their hijabs. The case is pending.

An attorney for the EEOC told the Louisville Courier-Journal that the case was the first of its kind in Kentucky but that cases of religious discrimination are common around the country. It was unclear late Thursday whether similar cases have been filed in Indiana because complaints are not made public unless the EEOC takes action.

The Washington-based Council on American-Islamic Relations said it receives complaints at least once a week from women who have been told they could not wear the hijab.


Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.