Muslim Woman Awarded $5 Million for Religious Discrimination
It is illegal, under federal law, to harass employees because of their religion. Prohibited harassment can include, for example, offensive remarks about a person’s religious beliefs or practices. While the law doesn’t prohibit simple teasing, offhand comments, or minor isolated incidents, harassment that is so frequent or severe that it creates a hostile or offensive work environment is illegal. In a recent lawsuit, a jury awarded $5 million to a former employee of AT&T, finding that harassing comments from co-workers and a manager created a hostile work environment.
Six years after the employee, a fiber-optics network builder, started working at AT&T, she converted from Christianity to Islam. Her co-workers, she said, called her a "terrorist" and a "towelhead." Her manager insulted her for wearing a hijab — a religious scarf — and repeatedly told her to remove it. Once, according to the lawsuit, he grabbed her and tried to take it off himself.
The employee said she called an employee help line and asked that sensitivity training be provided for her co-workers, but nothing happened. Later, she filed a complaint with the EEOC. The harassment continued. She asked to be transferred to another department or have her manager removed but, she said, again nothing happened. She said she was too stressed to return to work. Nine months later, she was fired. At the time, she was earning $70,000 a year.
WeComply’s online courses in preventing discrimination and harassment train managers and employees on crucial aspects of real-world applications of anti-discrimination law, including what kinds of conduct employees should avoid and maintaining a respectful work atmosphere.Categories: Discrimination & Harassment Compliance
Tags: Preventing Discrimination and Harassment