On April 29, 2012 we discussed the increase in the number of Muslims filing charges and lawsuits alleging employment discrimination on the basis of religion, and noted the statistics and a few recent charges filed.
We reported that Ralph E. Stone noted in the Berkeley Daily Planet that “although Muslims make up only two percent of the U.S. workforce,” they filed nearly 25 percent of religious-discrimination claims in 2009. He stated that “The increase in discrimination claims was predominately by Muslims, Arabs, South Asians, and Sikhs or Islamophobia. Most of the complaints alleged harassment and termination of employment. Some typical workplace-discrimination claims include comments about praying in the workplace, calling an employee a terrorist or member of al-Qaeda, racial slurs, forbidding women from wearing the traditional head scarf or hijab, and refusing to shave a beard. And there have been cases where an employee was discriminated against because other employees mistakenly thought he was a Muslim.”
On May 6, 2012, we commented on what appears to be the largest employment discrimination jury verdict in Missouri history based on religion which was rendered in favor of a woman who converted to Islam and then experienced harassment by co-workers at Southwestern Bell/AT&T. Plaintiff contended that “Nobody ever cared what religion I was before,” but when she converted colleagues began to call her a “towelhead” and a terrorist, and asked her if she was going to blow up the building.
The EEOC has now announced that Fremont Toyota in California has agreed to settle a case brought by four Afghan American salesmen who alleged that during a staff meeting the general manager called them “terrorists,” and threatened them with violence. The employer agreed to pay $400,000 and to train the dealership’s management staff. One of the plaintiffs was quoted as saying that: "The irony of this matter is that, after being labeled ‘terrorists’ at our old job, most of us found work with the U.S. military serving in Afghanistan protecting U.S. soldiers from the terrorists."
The increase in complaints of religious and national origin discrimination, and the atrocity at the Wisconsin Sikh temple this week, may or may not be related, but this employment trend is obviously one that should concern all Americans, not only employers.