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CAIR-MI Files EEOC Complaint Against DTE Energy on Behalf of Muslim Former Employee Discriminated Against for Attending Friday Prayer

(FARMINGTON HILLS, MI, 9/19/2018) — The Michigan chapter of Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR-MI), an office of the nation’s largest Muslim rights and advocacy organization, today filed an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) complaint against DTE Energy on behalf of a Muslim former employee who was forced to leave his job due to harassment and unfair discipline from a supervisor for exercising his right to attend Friday prayer.

When Ibrahim Canales first began working with DTE in early 2017, he was permitted to attend the Friday congregational prayers by working extra hours each day during the week to make up for the time he missed. However, that changed when DTE replaced his supervisor two months later. 

Canales’ new supervisor now refused to allow him to leave to attend Friday prayers, despite the fact that several other non-Muslim employees were allowed to work long hours during the week and take Fridays off completely. When Canales obtained permission to leave on Fridays from other supervisors, he received disciplines that were later dismissed as being unfounded.

His supervisor also attempted to require Canales to utilize personal time and vacation time in order to leave to attend prayers, despite the fact that he was a salaried employee who was working his required hours each week.  

Eventually, Canales was permitted to leave on Fridays to attend prayers by following the same schedule that he utilized with his prior supervisor and the same one that was used by those employees of other faiths who had only a four-day work week. 

In addition to the unfair discipline that Canales received for asserting his rights, he also received unfair and biased final and mid-year evaluations that affected his pay, bonuses and opportunities for advancement through the company.  His supervisor continued to evaluate Canales’ work performance long after he was no his supervisor, prompting other supervisors to assert that they did not agree with the negative statements and evaluations.

Because of the treatment that Canales received as an employee at DTE Energy, he was forced to look for different employment within the nuclear industry.  Due to Canales’ specialization in the nuclear energy and the discrimination he faced from DTE, he was forced to move his family out of state to take an employment opportunity.

“Mr. Canales was asking for a reasonable religious accommodation, an accommodation that was enjoyed by many people at DTE. Yet, he was denied and punished for his requests,” said CAIR-MI Staff Attorney Amy Doukoure. “Nobody should have to choose between suffering in a toxic work environment or uprooting themselves and their family simply because they chose to practice their faith.”

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: Amy Doukoure, CAIR-MI Staff Attorney, (586)943-8823 adoukoure@cair.com

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