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CAIR-NY Files Federal, State Religious Discrimination Complaints Against NYS Dept. of Corrections on Behalf of Muslim Chaplain

Supervisor: ”˜I find it hard to respect a woman who covers her hair.’

(NEW YORK, N.Y., 8/13/2019) – The New York chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-NY), the nation’s largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization, today filed federal and state employment discrimination complaints against the New York State Department of Corrections on behalf of a former Muslim chaplain employee for alleged harassment, hostile workplace and retaliation.  

The former employee, a Muslim American woman who wears a hijab, religious head cover, alleges that a supervisor engaged in years of harassment in an attempt to terminate her. The supervisor told colleagues that she “find[s] it hard to respect a woman who covers her hair.” 

At the beginning of the discriminatory treatment, the supervisor informed colleagues that she wanted to pursue termination to get rid of the American Muslim chaplain.  When the Muslim chaplain reported the discrimination to the superintendent, the superintendent failed to investigate and took no corrective action.

Other discriminatory and retaliatory conduct included: denial of Friday congregational prayer; punitive schedule changes; destruction of Islamic scriptural decals; false misconduct allegations; and undermining of authority with inmates. Before her resignation, the Muslim chaplain’s supervisor refused to give her access to prayer rugs that were ordered for the facility. The supervisor informed her that “I am not giving them to you.”  

Because of the workplace hostility, the Muslim chaplain started counseling to cope with the hostility and was placed on anti-depressants by her doctor. As a result, the Muslim chaplain was forced to resign her position. 

SEE Discrimination Complaint: Muslim Chaplain v. DOCCS

CAIR-NY Litigation Director Ahmed Mohamed stated:

“Our client stood up for herself numerous times but the people whose job it was to investigate and protect her from this hostility failed her. The Department of Corrections has a lot of explaining to do for its refusal to take any corrective steps. The Department of Corrections condoned this behavior and caused severe emotional and psychological pain and suffering. We hope the Department will come to its senses, pass down discipline, and make this right.”  

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. 

In a published report, CAIR noted a 17 percent increase in bias-motivated incidents and a 15 percent increase in hate crimes against American Muslims since Trump took office. 

New Yorkers may also contact CAIR-NY for assistance by filing an incident report online at or by calling 646-665-7599.  

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.


 CONTACT: CAIR-NY Litigation Director Ahmed Mohamed,, 646-481-2103; CAIR-NY Executive Director Afaf Nasher,, 917-669-4006

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