Muslim flight attendant sues US airline for firing her for refusing to serve alcohol

PHOTO: Reuters

PHOTO: Reuters

A Muslim flight attendant who was dismissed by ExpressJet last year following her refusal to serve alcohol to passengers has sued the company for unfair dismissal.

The Michigan chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (Cair-MI) filed a lawsuit last week on behalf of Charee Stanley in Michigan’s eastern district court. The lawsuit states that ExpressJet is in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 because the airline did not provide a reasonable accommodation for Stanley’s religious beliefs.

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Stanley began working for ExpressJet around the time she converted to Islam; in 2013. She was granted the request to wear a hijab on her first day of work.

When Stanley further learned about the Islamic proscription on consuming alcohol also extended to the act of serving alcohol to others she requested her employers if other flight attendants on duty could serve alcohol while she performed other tasks. Her request was approved and Stanley coordinated with her coworkers. “This arrangement worked smoothly and without causing any problems,” the suit states.

However, according to the suit, another flight attendant complained about Stanley’s hijab, books in Arabic and refusal to serve alcohol.

Following the complaint, in August last 2015, Stanley was told to either resign or serve alcohol. Soon after , Stanley filed a discrimination complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in Detroit. While the investigation by EEOC was inconclusive, it allowed Stanley to sue.

The lawsuit seeks reinstatement of Stanley to her job, payment for economic, emotional and punitive damages, as well as compensation for attorney’s fees.

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In a press release, Cair-MI legal director Lena Masri said:  “Employers are obligated to provide reasonable accommodations of the religious beliefs of their employees,”

“ExpressJet wrongfully revoked the religious accommodation it directed Ms. Stanley to follow, and retaliated against her for following it by wrongfully suspending her employment.”

ExpressJet is a Georgia-based airline that is partnered with American Airlines, Delta Air Lines and United Airlines.

This article originally appeared on The Guardian.


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