Discrimination Toward Muslims on the Rise at Work

Muslims make up less than 2 percent of the United States population, however, they accounted for about one-quarter of the 3,386 religious discrimination claims filed with the E.E.O.C. last year. At a time of growing tensions involving Muslims in the United States, a record number of Muslim workers are complaining of employment discrimination and prejudice, from co-workers calling them “terrorist” or “Osama” to employers barring them from wearing head scarves or taking prayer breaks. The rising number of complaints by Muslims, which exceeds even the amount filed in the year after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, comes as tensions rise between Muslim Americans and those of other faiths.

The federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has found enough merit in some of the complaints that it has filed several prominent lawsuits on behalf of Muslim workers.

Polls have shown that many Americans feel a growing wariness toward Muslims after the 9/11 attacks and after years of fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan. Mosques and Islamic community centers in the United States — most prominently one proposed near ground zero in Manhattan — have faced substantial opposition. And a Florida pastor received national attention this month for threatening to burn the Koran on Sept. 11.