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eeoc_equal_employment_opportunity_commission_seal_nyreblog_com_.pngMorningside House of Ellicott City to Pay $25,000 for Religious Discrimination

EEOC  Says Muslim Applicant Denied Hire Because of Hijab

An Ellicott City, Md., assisted living center will pay $25,000 and furnish  other relief to settle a religious discrimination lawsuit filed by the U.S  Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency announced today.  The EEOC had charged that Morningside House of  Ellicott City denied hire to a Muslim job applicant because she refused to  remove her hijab, a headscarf worn by  Muslim women as a religious obligation.

In its  suit, (1:11-cv-02766-JKB), filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of  Maryland, Northern Division, the EEOC said that the director of health and  wellness asked Khadijah Salim if she would be willing to remove her hijab.  The director expressed  concerns that if she were hired, the hijab may interfere with her ability to work as a certified nursing assistant  (CNA).  Salim responded that she had worn  her hijab throughout her nursing  training, which included working in the operating room, and it had never  interfered with her ability to perform her duties.  Although she was told she would be contacted  if someone were interested in her, she was never contacted, nor was she one of  ten CNAs who were hired by the employer in September 2010.

Under Title  VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, employers have an obligation to  accommodate an employee's or applicant's sincerely held religious beliefs  unless it creates an undue hardship.  The  EEOC filed suit after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement  through its conciliation process.

In addition  to the monetary relief to Salim, the consent decree settling the suit enjoins  the senior living home from further discriminating against any individual on the  basis of religion; requires religious discrimination training to supervisors,  managers and all involved in the hiring process; to post a notice stating the  company's commitment to maintaining an environment free of religious  discrimination; and submit copies of any complaints about religious  discrimination to the EEOC for a period of two years.

"In this case, there was no undue  hardship to the employer -- just an apparent overreaction to a reasonable  request because of myths and stereotypes about a religion," said EEOC Regional  Attorney Debra M. Lawrence. 

According to its website, www.morningsidehouse.com ,  "Morningside House has been proudly serving seniors and their families  since 1992 and is considered the 'top-referred' assisted living and dementia  care provider in the Baltimore / Washington area."

The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment  discrimination.  Further information  about the Commission is available at its website, www.eeoc.gov .