(CHICAGO, 10/25/11) — The Chicago office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-Chicago) filed a complaint in federal court yesterday against The American Bottling Company on behalf of a Muslim man, Nathan Henderson, who was unjustly fired from the company after requesting time off on Fridays for Islamic congregational prayers.
Henderson filed a charge of religious discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). Upon investigation, the EEOC found that the “evidence established reasonable cause to believe that [the company] discriminated against [Henderson] because of his religion.” The EEOC issued a Notice of A Right to Sue this past August.
Henderson, a delivery worker and truck driver for the company, performed his duties satisfactorily and initially had a good relationship with his manager. Problems began when Henderson informed his manager that, as a Muslim, he would like to take his lunch break from 1:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m. on Fridays so that he could participate in the weekly Jumu’ah prayers. The manager responded to the request saying, “No, we don’t do that. I wish you would have told me you had this obligation before we hired you. We would not have hired you. Maybe you need to look for another job.” Henderson offered to work other shifts to accommodate the company, but to no avail. Henderson was fired a few days later.
“The allegations in this case reveal a complete disregard of Mr. Henderson’s rights under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964,” said Kevin Vodak, Litigation Director at CAIR-Chicago. “Employers are legally obligated to make reasonable religious accommodations for their employees as long as it does not interfere with work performance, and Mr. Henderson’s reasonable requests would have in no way placed an undue hardship on the company.”
Henderson is suing for the emotional distress the ordeal has caused and loss of wages and benefits he would have received had he not been terminated.
CAIR-Chicago is a chapter of America’s largest Muslim civil rights group, which has over 30 offices and chapters nationwide and in Canada. Its mission is to promote justice, enhance the understanding of Islam, and empower American Muslims.
Amina Sharif, Communications Coordinator, CAIR-Chicago, 312-212-1520, 630-935-5562, firstname.lastname@example.org
Ahmed Rehab, Executive Director, CAIR-Chicago, 312-212-1520, 202-870-0166, email@example.com