25 former Hertz drivers in Seattle sue, saying they were targeted as Somali Muslims

SEATTLE — Twenty-five former Hertz drivers at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport have filed a lawsuit claiming they were fired based on their race, religion and nationality.

The former employees are Muslims who were born in Somalia.

The lawsuit filed Wednesday in King County Superior Court claims Hertz Corp. terminated them after they refused to clock out for prayers. The lawsuit claims they had not been required to clock out previously and the rules were changed to target Somali Muslims.

Hertz officials could not be reached for comment after business hours. But a spokesman said previously that other drivers who were suspended in September returned to their jobs after agreeing to clock out.
The workers who are suing want to be reinstated with back pay, plus reimbursement of lost benefits and attorneys’ fees.

French court backs nursery for firing veil-wearing employee

News Agencies – October 27, 2011

 

A French appeals court has ruled that a kindergarten had acted legally by firing a female employee who refused to remove an Islamic headscarf, the nursery’s lawyer said.

The Versailles Appeals Court said the Baby-Loup nursery in nearby Chanteloup-les-Vignes had acted within a law allowing privately-owned kindergartens to forbid the wearing of religious symbols when it fired the employee in 2008, lawyer Richard Malka said. The decision upheld a previous ruling by a French employment tribunal. Malka hailed the ruling as “a major victory for secularism”.

Muslims fired in Seattle over prayer breaks could return-Hertz

SEATTLE, Oct 21 (Reuters) – The Hertz car rental company said on Friday that 26 Muslim drivers at Seattle’s airport sent termination letters in a dispute over prayer breaks could still return to work if they signed an agreement over break rules by the end of the day.

A group of 34 workers at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport were suspended three weeks ago for failing to clock in and out for the breaks, a move their union called religious discrimination.

French chef fired for serving halal meat

News agencies – September 14, 2011

 

A French chef employed by the Avenance Elior catering company and working in the Hewlett-Packard (HP) cafeteria in Ulis (Ile-de-France), was laid off for making a halal steak by request of a Muslim employee. About 500 employees mobilized to defend the chef and signed a petition which will be presented to Avenance Elior’s management.

Chef Guillaume Chigot, who was grilling meat in the cafeteria, agreed to prepare frozen halal steaks which would be brought by one of the employees. Chigot says he told the employee it wasn’t legal, but that he’ll do it if it will stay between them. He made sure the steaks would stay separate from other food products.

Seattle-area Muslim man sues former employer over firing because he refused to shave beard

SEATTLE — A Seattle-area Muslim man is suing his former employer, claiming he was fired as a security guard for refusing to shave the beard he wears for religious reasons.

Abdulkadir Omar, 22, filed his federal lawsuit July 15 in Seattle against Sacramento-based American Patriot Security, seeking back pay and unspecified damages for emotional pain and loss of enjoyment of life, among other reasons.

According to the lawsuit, Omar was hired by a local manager of the security company in May 2009 and earned $9 an hour guarding a FedEx warehouse in Kent, Wash. He said he started the same day he was hired, and was not told about the clean-shaven policy.

In November 2009, a supervisor from headquarters told him he had to shave his beard because of company policy. Omar responded that his beard is part of his religious beliefs and refused. He was suspended, and then fired the following spring, the lawsuit said.

Supreme Court turns down new appeals from men held at Guantanamo for 9 years

WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court has turned away appeals from foreigners seeking their release after nine years of detention at Guantanamo Bay.

The court on Monday rejected three separate claims asking the justices to review rulings against the detainees by the federal appeals court in Washington.

In 2008, the high court ruled that the Guantanamo detainees have a constitutional right to ask a federal civilian judge to review their cases and suggested that a judge could order their release.
But in a series of cases since, the D.C. Circuit has limited the authority of federal district judges and made it harder for the detainees to challenge their continued confinement.

The appeals that the court turned down Monday came from: Ghaleb Nassar Al Bihani, a Yemeni who served as a cook for Taliban forces and said he never fired a shot in battle; Fawzi al-Odah, a Kuwaiti who says he was an Islamic studies teacher, not part of terrorist forces; and Adham Mohammed Al Awad of Yemen, who lost part of his right leg in an air raid in Afghanistan but denied being an al-Qaida fighter.

Dutch Chain Fires Woman in Headscarf

March 8 2011

Popular Dutch department store Hema in the Belgian-Limburg town of Genk has fired one of its temporary workers for wearing a headscarf. The woman, who is “not of foreign origin” had asked on interview if she could wear a headscarf and received assurance that it was permitted. Customers complaining about her attire prompted the management to demand the headscarf be removed and to fire her when she did not do so. There were no complaints about her work.

Salon worker in the Greater Toronto Area claims she was fired for her headscarf

The Toronto Star – February 10, 2011

A young Markham, Ontario woman who works as an esthetician claims she was fired for wearing an Islamic headscarf because the salon “promotes hair.” Mehwish Ali, a 22-year-old esthetician was fired a day after she says the co-owner told her the hijab was unacceptable.
“I was devastated when I heard that,” Ali told the Star. “I have worn the hijab for more than 10 years and never felt any kind of discrimination.” The co-owner of the franchise near Highway 401 and Brock Rd, categorically denies that. “This is a performance issue, strictly a performance issue,” he said.
Ali disagrees and has turned to the Human Rights Legal Support Centre for help.
She said she wore a headscarf for the interview, which was conducted by the store manager. A week later, Ali was hired and her job entailed doing facials, manicures, pedicures and waxing services. It had nothing to do with hair, she pointed out.

Islamophobia and Homophobia

Playing the homophobia card is costlier than playing the Islamophobia card. Or at least, the costs are more evenly spread across the political spectrum. Suppose Williams had said something hurtful to gay people instead of to Muslims. Suppose he had said gay men give him the creeps because he fears they’ll make sexual advances. NPR might well have fired him, but would Fox News have chosen that moment to give him a $2-million pat on the back?

As Islamophobia grows, it alienates Muslims, raising the risk of homegrown terrorism — and homegrown terrorism heightens the Islamophobia, which alienates more Muslims, and so on: a vicious circle that could carry America into the abyss. So it’s worth taking a look at why homophobia is fading; maybe the underlying dynamic is transplantable to the realm of inter-ethnic prejudice.

Theories differ as to what it takes for people to build bonds across social divides, and some theories offer more hope than others. One of the less encouraging theories grows out of the fact that both homophobia and Islamophobia draw particular strength from fundamentalist Christians.

Fired by NPR, Juan Williams Begins Bigger Role at Fox, Keeps up Criticism of Ex-employer

Juan Williams was fired Wednesday over comments he made on “The O’Reilly Factor.” “When I get on a plane,” he said, “I got to tell you, if I see people who are in Muslim garb and I think, you know, they are identifying themselves first and foremost as Muslims, I get worried. I get nervous.” After his remarks, Fox announced it had re-signed Williams, who has been with the network since 1997, to a multi year deal that will give him an expanded role–while, NPR terminated his contract.

In an interview on Friday, Vivian Schiller, NPR’s chief executive, defended the decision to dismiss Mr. Williams and said it was not the product of political or financial pressures. “And that is the sole reason,” she added. “This is not a First Amendment issue.” The public radio organization has come under severe criticism — largely from people who are not listeners, it believes — for having fired Mr. Williams. Some have said his comment was bigoted, but others have rallied to Mr. Williams’s defense, and many conservatives have seized on his firing to resurrect their war against public broadcasting.

NPR radio stations are independently owned and operated and, like the nation’s public TV stations, receive government funding through the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, which got about $420 million this year from Washington. As for NPR’s headquarters operation, federal grants account for less than 2 percent — or $3.3 million — of its $166 million annual budget. It is funded primarily by its affiliates, corporate sponsors and major donors.