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CAIR-MI Files EEOC Complaint Against Popeyes

(SOUTHFIELD, MI, 9/28/10) – The Michigan chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-MI) today filed an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) complaint against a Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen restaurant in that state on behalf of a Muslim who alleges denial of employment based on his religion.
The Muslim job applicant reported to CAIR-MI that he recently applied for employment at a Popeyes franchise in Detroit, Mich. On September 11, he was hired, but then reportedly told to shave his beard before beginning employment. The complainant reportedly informed the general manager that he wore his beard for religious reasons, after which he was allegedly told that he could not begin employment until he shaved.
On September 21, the complainant arrived for orientation and again explained the religious significance of his beard but was sent home by the manager.
On September 27, he approached the manager with a letter from CAIR-MI explaining the religious significance of the beard while addressing safety and health considerations. The complainant told the manager he was willing to wear a covering such as a hair net or mask. The complainant was again denied employment.
“We urge Popeyes to take immediate action to bring its hiring policies into compliance with long-established legal guidelines for reasonable religious accommodation in the workplace,” said CAIR-MI Staff Attorney Lena Masri.
Masri said Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits employers from discriminating against individuals because of their religion in hiring, firing and other terms and conditions of employment. The act also requires employers to reasonably accommodate the religious practices of an employee, unless doing so would create an “undue hardship” for the employer.
In 2008, the EEOC issued new guidelines on accommodating religious beliefs and practices in the workplace. The guidelines offer protection for workers who wear religious attire such as hijab.
SEE: New Religious Discrimination Manual Released (USA Today)
CAIR offers a booklet called “An Employer’s Guide to Islamic Religious Practices” to help corporate managers gain a better understanding of Islam and Muslims.
CAIR is America’s largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization. Its mission is to enhance the understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.
CONTACT: CAIR-MI Staff Attorney Lena Masri, 248-390-9784, E-Mail:; CAIR-MI Outreach Coordinator Raheem Hanifa, 248-559-2247,


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