Newly-arrived immigrant fired from first U.S. job, forced to pray outdoors in middle of winter
(NEW YORK, NY, 3/22/18) – The New York chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-NY), a leading Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization, and Lloyd Patel LLP, a leading employee-side labor and employment firm, today announced a $50,000 settlement with a Queens company for wrongfully terminating a Muslim man.
The 29-year-old South Asian green card holder, who prefers to remain anonymous, was wrongfully fired in 2017 simply for asking to pray. As a newly-arrived immigrant, this was the man’s first job in the United States, but he worked less than a week before being terminated.
The man’s supervisor reacted negatively to the revelation he was Muslim and became increasingly hostile once they learned about his faith. In his short time at the company, the man’s supervisor reportedly began to target him, sabotaging his work assignments and making derogatory statements about his faith.
This same supervisor refused to let him spend a few minutes a day praying in an empty part of the office, forcing him to pray in a nearby park in the dead of winter. In addition to providing compensation for lost wages and emotional damages, the employer is also required to conduct non-discrimination training for both management and employees.
“No New Yorker should be forced into the cold, or fired from work, simply for wanting to pray,” said CAIR-NY Legal Director Albert Fox Cahn. “Our laws are clear: New Yorkers have the right to reasonable accommodations to practice their faith. You don’t have to choose between your religion and your job. This settlement helps send a signal to employers that Muslim New Yorkers will not accept workplace discrimination or harassment. Our laws protect the right to take reasonable breaks, to pray, to wear the hijab, and to keep a beard.”
“Our client made the difficult and courageous decision to take a stand against unlawful religious discrimination by taking legal action, and we could not be more proud to have represented him,” said Lloyd Patel LLP Partner Erin Lloyd. “We are pleased with the monetary award for our client and that future employees at this company will be made aware of their legal rights and protections.”
The announcement came less than a week after the New York civil rights organization filed a civil rights class action lawsuit against New York City, accusing the NYPD of mistreating Muslim women. The suit alleged that the NYPD’s policy of forcing Muslim women and other detainees to remove religious head coverings was unlawful and unconstitutional.
The settlement comes amid a surge in anti-Muslim harassment, discrimination, and hate crimes in New York State. The group noted a 974% increase in such reports from 2015 to 2017.
Press Release: Civil Rights Report 2017
CAIR’s mission is to protect civil rights, enhance understanding of Islam, promote justice, and empower American Muslims.
La misión de CAIR es proteger las libertades civiles, mejorar la comprensión del Islam, promover la justicia, y empoderar a los musulmanes en los Estados Unidos.
Lloyd Patel LLP, a leading a New York City-based labor and employment law firm representing workers in unlawful discrimination, harassment, and retaliation actions.