Muslim Woman Forced to Take Off Headscarf in New Jersey Factory
Muslim woman says Saddle Brook factory managers demanded she remove headscarf.
(via NJ.com)SADDLE BROOK — A Muslim woman has filed a complaint claiming she was the victim of religious discrimination when managers at the Saddle Brook factory where she worked told her to take off her headscarf.
Naima Mnasri, of Elmwood Park, said she was waiting for an assignment on her second day of work at Paradigm Packaging Jan. 17 when she was “singled out” by a supervisor and told to remove her religious headscarf, called a hijab, because it was a safety issue, according to the compliant. A day before she worked at the plastic vitamin bottling company without incident.
“She informed the supervisor that it is a fundamental part of her religion that she wears her headscarf, as she is an observant Muslim,” the complaint said. “The supervisor restated that she remove her headscarf for safety concerns and added that no religious symbol is permitted in the factory.”
Mnasri went to a floor manager over the issue and was again told she couldn’t wear the hijab, her complaint alleged. She left the job that day because of the confrontation.
The New Jersey chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations filed the complaint with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission on Mnasri’s behalf Jan. 29. In the complaint, a lawyer for the group said the company’s actions violated Mnasri’s First Amendment rights as well as state anti-discrimination laws.
“As required by the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination, the company cannot require an employee to violate or forego a sincerely held religious belief as a term or condition of obtaining or retaining employment,” the group’s civil rights director and lawyer, Khurrum Ali, wrote in the compliant.
Paradigm made no efforts to “reasonably accommodate” Mnasri, eliminating any claim that the religious accommodations were overly burdensome, the complaint alleged.
The company did not respond to a call for comment this week. An EEOC spokeswoman would not confirm or deny any complaint was filed and declined comment, citing agency policy.
Mnasri, who was placed in the position through a Paterson manufacturing staffing firm, has since found other work through the agency, according to the complaint.