Southern Hills Medical Center in Nashville has agreed to pay a former employee $70,000 in damages after denying him time off to make a pilgrimage to Mecca but admitted no wrongdoing when it settled the religious discrimination case on Monday.

In late 2007, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission filed suit on behalf of Wali Telwar, a Muslim former Southern Hills medical technician who lives in Nashville.

The hospital refused to allow Telwar to use just over 20 days of accumulated vacation time to take a trip to Mecca. Every Muslim is required to make the hajj — a pilgrimage to the Saudi Arabian birthplace of the Islamic religion and its prophet — in their lifetime.

Telwar, who had worked at the hospital for three years, also claimed he was told that if he insisted on attending the hajj he would have to quit his job and reapply when he returned.

Telwar resigned, according to the suit. When he returned, Southern Hills did not rehire him. The hospital hired three other medical technicians. (More)


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