Muslim woman sues US firm after being ‘rejected due to hijab’

Chicago: A Muslim woman has sued a security company in the US for discrimination, alleging that the firm rejected her for employment because of her faith and her hijab.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations has filed the federal lawsuit on behalf of Zahraa-Imani Ali, from St Louis County, Missouri, alleging that a nationwide security firm discriminated against prospective Muslim employees.

Securitas Security Services refused to hire Ali, “at least in part, but likely entirely, on the fact that Ms Ali wears the hijab as part of her adherence to the Islamic faith,” lawyer Robert West was quoted as saying by St. Louis Post- Dispatch.

The suit, filed on October 21, seeks monetary damages, costs and attorneys’ fees and seeks class-action status to represent other applicants.

The lawsuit said that Ali, a former correctional officer, applied for a job with Securitas in September 2015. During a phone screening that October, she asked whether wearing a hijab would be an issue, the suit said.

The “recruitment specialist” said that there should not be a problem, but in a series of emails, a regional compliance manager recommended that the specialist “side step” and “pass on” Ali, according to the suit.

“The mainstreaming of Islamophobia has made it much harder for American Muslims to gain employment because of religious discrimination,” Faizan Syed, executive director of the council’s Missouri chapter, said in a statement.

“We hope this lawsuit will send a clear message to all employers to follow the law and not engage in discriminatory hiring practices,” he said.