AT&T To Pay Muslim Woman $5 Million After Boss Snatched Off Her Scarf

Susann Bashir AT&T lawsuit religiousKANSAS CITY, Mo. -- A former Kansas City woman who converted to Islam in 2005 said she was harassed for years at AT&T, and that the abuse boiled over in 2008 when her boss snatched her head scarf and exposed her hair.

A Jackson County jury on Thursday awarded Susann Bashir $5 million in punitive damages in her discrimination lawsuit, along with $120,000 in lost wages and other actual damages. The Kansas City Star reported Saturday that the award appears to be the largest jury verdict for a workplace discrimination case in Missouri history.

Bashir said in court documents that her work environment became hostile immediately after she converted, with her co-workers making harassing comments about her religion and referring to her hijab as "that thing on her head."

"I was shocked. I thought, 'What is going on?' " she told the newspaper. "Nobody ever cared what I wore before. Nobody ever cared what religion I was before."

Bashir worked at AT&T's office in Kansas City for 10 years as a fiber optics network builder before being fired from her $70,000-a-year job. She claimed that she endured religious discrimination nearly every day of the final three years she worked there, including being asked if she was going to blow up the building and being called a "towelhead" and a terrorist.

AT&T said Friday that it disagrees with the verdict and plans to appeal.

Despite the jury's award, Bashir stands to receive much less than $5 million because Missouri law caps such awards at five times the actual damage amount, plus attorney fees.

Amy Coopman, Bashir's lawyer, said attorney fees will be determined later by the judge.

The previous largest such verdict came in 2009, when Mohamed Alhalabi, an Arab-American Muslim, was awarded $811,949 in St. Louis County Circuit Court in a case against the Missouri Department of Natural Resources.

That same year, a Jonesboro, Ark., jury ordered AT&T to pay $1.3 million to two former employees fired for attending a Jehovah's Witnesses convention.

Bashir said she called an employee help line in March 2005 and asked the company to provide sensitivity training for her co-workers.

"It was a worthless call," she said. "Nothing ever changed."

The harassment continued and in March 2008, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission launched an investigation after she filed a complaint.

She said that made some workers angry and led to the final encounter with her boss.

Bashir said she became so stressed out that she couldn't return to work. She asked that her boss be removed or that she be transferred, but neither happened.

She was fired after not returning to work for nine months.

"By firing me, they stole my ability to work at a job I liked," Bashir said.

She said the incident was hard on her mentally and physically and tore her family apart. She is going through a divorce, and in October she and her daughter moved to Anchorage, Alaska, where she works as an apartment manager.

"I have mixed feelings," Bashir said. "I'm happy not to be reporting to that management structure. But it's hard in this economy to find a job with that level of compensation. I didn't want to lose my job, because I felt I was doing good work."

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Spirituality in the Workplace

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No matter what this should not have happened because of law and right to be religious or not to be religious, there is no such thing in American society, no one can take your freedom away, American society and laws based on absolute freedom, if freedom goes away so then what is the difference to be American, instead, be a follower of hitler, this is so wrong..!!!! whatever it is, law clearly explains such actions and DISCRIMINATION will not be tolerated in The USA.

January 20 2013 at 2:23 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Nathalie M-y

I thought America was the land of freedom of Religion.

July 15 2012 at 11:37 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Its funny that people here are talking about religion. Mostly people read anti-Islamic stuff on far-right or Christian missionary websites and think that they can "debate" Islam now. I actually have read BOTH the books--Qur'an and the Bible.Women in Islam enjoy way ,way MORE rights than any other (Abharamic) religion for that matter.

Islam started in 7th century in the tribal society of Arabia. In those times , Arabs used to bury their daughters alive. After the advent of Islam, Arabs became pretty "civilized" by the standards of those times. Islam EXPLICITLY gives women these major rights :

1-Right to education
2-Right to divorce (even on the basis of sexual dissatisfaction)
3-Right to property and inheritance.
4-Right to do independent business (Muhammad's wife was a businesswoman )

Today , West blames Islam for many bad practices of the Muslim societies such as honor killings or women rights in Saudi Arabia etc but all this has nothing to do with Islam. Cultural practices should not be mixed with the religion.Interestingly , Westerners never talk about women rights in the bible. In the bible women are given a very low status and hence we see Secularism in the West today because Western thinkers rejected Christianity.

If you read the Medieval European criticism of Islam , one of the main criticism was that Islam gives "too much" liberty to the women (and slaves). Read Karen Armstrong for further studies.

Here is one link comparing Women in Islam and Judeo-Christian scriptures


Just see now OT talks about women.

Hateful comments here tell the story. Discrimination against Muslims in the West is at its peak. As TYT professor said , Islam is now the new 'Catholcism' for Americans. Sad.

May 09 2012 at 2:35 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to Auzer's comment

"Women in Islam enjoy way ,way MORE rights than any other (Abharamic) religion for that matter."

Way to set the bar high. I'm sure women are really grateful that you are not the most intolerant religion.

August 05 2012 at 4:14 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Terry J Trainor

You read the Koran?
Where, specifically, did you find these four "rights" that Islam gives to women?
I HAVE read it, studied it, and much of the Hadith as well -
I find NONE of these.
But the Koran DOES give wives the RIGHT to not be beaten with a stick larger than her husbands finger -
VERY progressive religion!

August 10 2012 at 3:46 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I wouldn't give that ugly bitch anything, I don't care if I was the boss of AT&T or Jesus Christ himself. I wouldn't have pull her towel off her head, I would have pulled it down over her face. I don't blame her for feeling ashamed of exposing her greasy matted down smelly hair.

May 08 2012 at 5:32 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to octfd's comment

Oh another redneck reading too much of his hate-filled bible?

May 08 2012 at 6:37 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
larry lavender

what about dropping that bitch of in pakastan and let her have her religion there

May 08 2012 at 4:56 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

You have got to be kidding!!! $5M for what? Religion? Religion is for weak minded people, whom are unable to think for themselves. The legal system will award someone for nothing and put innocent people behind bar's for nothing. It would seem the legal system is good for nothing. Money well spent.

May 08 2012 at 4:49 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Silverband's comment

5 Million for the discrimination against our citizen. Any clue yet?

May 08 2012 at 6:38 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Way too much of a penalty...

Boss was wrong, but not 5 million....

May 08 2012 at 4:36 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

If I owned AT&T I would appeal into the next century and drag foot all the way. She would never see a penny

May 08 2012 at 4:35 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

Yes you are correct, but I am a conservative Catholic and, if I was Muslim and you pulled off my clothing that is also a religious the attack would be worse.

I thought this type of crap ended when Hitler ended, but I guess no--and by the way, I live in Germany, my family is Catholic , and my wife is German, so there is no bias

May 08 2012 at 4:33 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply

The reality is that the judgment was because she was assaulted, not because of anything else. Her boss attacked her in the workplace. A workplace is supposed to be safe. How would you feel if a boss yanked your tie off? If it was a naked woman on it and he yanked it off it would still be an assault.

May 08 2012 at 4:10 PM Report abuse -2 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to mouse's comment


Back in the day, the boss ripped your tie off, you would rip the bosses tongue out. It was an unwritten expectation just like the Chicago code.

May 08 2012 at 4:55 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to cdterm47's comment

Amen to that!

May 08 2012 at 4:59 PM Report abuse rate up rate down

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