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CAIR Files Religious Discrimination Complaints Against McDonald’s Franchisees in Md., Conn. on Behalf of Female Muslim Employees Who Wear Hijab

(WASHINGTON, DC, 10/25/18) – The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the nation’s largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization, today announced the filing of two religious discrimination and hostile workplace environment complaints against M & M Management d/b/a McDonald’s and Susdewitt Management LLC d/b/a McDonald’s on behalf of two female American Muslim employees who wear hijab, a religious headscarf, in accordance with their religious beliefs. The franchises are located in Maryland and Connecticut.

According to the first complaint, after Ms. Arlene Hassan finished her job interview, she was offered a position with McDonald’s but was instructed that she would not be able to wear her hijab during the course of her employment, in accordance with company policy. 

Ms. Hassan requested a religious accommodation to wear her hijab. However, McDonald’s rejected her request because company policy does not permit to wear the hijab in the work place. According to Ms. Hassan, management explained that it had previously terminated an employee because she chose to wear the hijab. 

According to the second complaint, after Ms. Diamond Powell converted to Islam, she faced hostility and retaliation. At first, Ms. Powell received a religious accommodation to wear her hijab and pray her obligatory prayers. However, her accommodation was inconsistently applied. 

At one point, management reprimanded Ms. Powell for taking short prayer breaks. Management further informed Ms. Powell that they do not “want her to pray inside the store because then people will think it’s a sanctuary” and that “God understands.”

Ms. Powell reported the harassment to Human Resources and Management. However, no corrective action was taken. Instead, a supervisor threatened to retaliate against and terminate Ms. Powell if she continued to practice her faith in the workplace.

Both Ms. Hassan and Ms. Powell were forced to resign their employment.  

CAIR Legal Defense Fund is representing the women in their EEOC & respective state discrimination complaints claiming employment discrimination, hostile workplace environment, and retaliation on the basis of religion, sex, and other protected statuses.

Read Charge of Religious Discrimination Against M & M Management d/b/a McDonald’s: https://tinyurl.com/CAIRM-MComplaint

Read Charge of Religious Discrimination Against Susdewitt Management LLC d/b/a McDonald’s: https://tinyurl.com/CAIRSusdewittComplaint

CAIR has notified McDonald’s corporate office of the discriminatory policies and practices by its franchisees in these cases. CAIR asks McDonald’s corporate office to immediately intervene to ensure its franchisees comply with federal and state employment discrimination laws. 

Read CAIR’s Letter to McDonald’s Corporate Office: https://tinyurl.com/CAIRLetter

“People of all religions and backgrounds are entitled to go to work and do their jobs without having to give up their sincerely-held religious beliefs and without being subjected to an environment rampant with religious harassment,” said CAIR National Litigation Director Lena Masri. “McDonald’s corporate office has an obligation to ensure its franchisees comply with federal and state employment laws.  We hope they will step up, take this issue seriously, and do the right thing.”   

CAIR Director of Maryland Outreach Zainab Chaudry said: “All employees deserve to be treated with dignity and respect regardless of protected status. Any individual who is targeted and intimidated because of their religion and takes the initiative to seek justice deserves to be applauded for their courage.”

Earlier this week, CAIR filed employment discrimination complaints on behalf of American Muslim female employees against AARP and ARCH.

CAIR has reported an unprecedented spike in bigotry targeting American Muslims and members of other minority groups since the election of Donald Trump as president.

The Washington-based organization’s recently-released 2018 Civil Rights Report, “Targeted,” showed a 17 percent increase in bias-motivated incidents against American Muslims from 2016 to 2017, and a 15 percent increase in the number of anti-Muslim hate crimes in that same time period.

Community members are being urged to report any bias incidents to police and to CAIR’s Civil Rights Department at 202-742-6420 or by going to: https://www.cair.com/report

CAIR is America’s largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization. Its mission is to enhance understanding of Islam, protect civil rights, 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.

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CONTACT: CAIR National Litigation Director Lena Masri, 248-390-9784, lmasri@cair.com; CAIR Senior Litigation Attorney Gadeir Abbas, 720-251-0425, gabbas@cair.com; CAIR Trial Attorney Ahmed Mohamed, 202-742-6440, amohamed@cair.com; CAIR National Communications Director Ibrahim Hooper, 202-744-7726, ihooper@cair.com; CAIR Director of Maryland Outreach Zainab Chaudry, 410-971-6062zchaudry@cair.com

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