Press Releases

Minn. Muslim Denied Job Because of Islamic Scarf

(ST. PAUL, MN, 8/08/08) – The Minnesota chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-MN) today called on Eagan-based Old Country Buffet to investigate an incident involving a Muslim woman who was allegedly denied employment at the Fridley restaurant due to her religious headscarf.

The woman, who had applied for a cashier position, reported to CAIR-MN that she was invited for an interview but was told by the manager that the headscarf violates the company’s uniform regulations. The hiring manager asked the Muslim woman if she would take the headscarf off while employed at the restaurant. When she explained that she wore the scarf for religious reasons, the manager allegedly said, “There is no point in doing this interview which is pretty sad because I was excited to give you the job.” The manager ended the interview and told the Muslim woman to reschedule if she decides to take off the religious scarf.

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Minnesota Human Rights Act prohibit employers from discriminating against individuals based on their religion. Employers are also required to reasonably accommodate the religious practices of their employees or prospective employees unless a real “undue hardship” would prevent them from doing so.

“Asking questions pertaining to any protected class during an interview is a presumption of discrimination,” said CAIR-MN Civil Rights Coordinator Taneeza Islam. “Employers must understand the law. Our hope is that we can use this as an opportunity to educate and resolve the matter.”

The Islamic civil rights and advocacy group is asking Old Country Buffet to:
1. Investigate the incident.
2. Offer a formal written apology.
3. Participate in CAIR’s workplace sensitivity and diversity training.
4. Review the uniform policy for all restaurants and ensure that it complies with the law.

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 in the workplace.
SEE: images/pdf/employment_guide.pdf

Last week, the Oklahoma chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-OK) filed an EEOC complaint on behalf of a Muslim woman who was allegedly denied employment at an Abercrombie Kids store in that state because of the applicant’s religiously-mandated headscarf.
SEE: OK Muslim Denied Job Because of Islamic Scarf

CAIR, America’s largest Islamic civil liberties and advocacy group has 35 offices and chapters nationwide and in Canada. 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.

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CONTACT: CAIR-MN Communications Director Valerie Shirley, 763-226-5866, E-Mail:; CAIR-MN Board Chair Lori Saroya, 612-327-6700, E-Mail:; Civil Rights Coordinator Taneeza Islam,; CAIR National Communications Director Ibrahim Hooper, 202-488-8787 or 202-744-7726, E-Mail:


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