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Employer faces allegation of religious discrimination

With the vast number of people with different cultural beliefs, religions and manners of dress, it is unavoidable that Michigan businesses will occasionally get caught up in allegations of violations of employee civil rights. When there are assertions that an employer has taken actions that amount to discrimination, it can lead to a lawsuit. The lawsuit is a problem on its own, but many businesses cannot survive even the perception that it is treating a member of a protected class illegally or is violating the law. This is why it is important for businesses to lodge a strong defense against charges of this kind.

A woman has filed a lawsuit alleging that her religious attire negatively affected her employment. The woman, who is Muslim, wears a head scarf. She claims that the employer and a staffing agency took part in demoting and then terminating her.

In this case, the woman says that she was confronted with complaints about the head scarf right after she began working at the factory. The second day on the job, she was told that other employees were complaining about her attire. She replied that she would not remove it because it was a religious requirement.

The day after that, she was told that she was being moved to another department and would lose 10 hours a week in work time. She also says that after she informed her employer that the amount of money she would earn with the reduced hours was not sufficient for her to support herself. She was then told that they would find her a different position with full time hours. But, the employer never did, and she was eventually terminated. As a result, she subsequently filed her case.

The company says that the case had nothing to do with her head scarf. Rather, it was because of safety concerns that there are certain pieces of clothing that can get caught in the machinery.

Cases, such as this, are often viewed from the perspective of the person who alleges that he or she is being discriminated against. However, the company often has a reasonable position when it comes to safety issues and other requirements that can collide with the clothing that people of various different religions have to wear. With that in mind, it is imperative that companies lay the foundation for a vigorous defense to protect themselves from unfounded charges with the help from a qualified lawyer.

Source: The Detroit News, "Lawsuit: Woman's head scarf led to job loss in Mich.," Mark Hicks, May 26, 2016

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