Muslim Man Awarded $66,000 For Dismissal Over Beard Conflict
The Muslim security guard allegedly fired for refusing to shave his beard was awarded $66,000 in back pay, attorney fees and court costs by a federal judge.
Abdulkadir Omar, 23, worked for American Patriot Security in 2009 and 2010. U.S. District Judge Robert Lasnik ordered a default judgment against the company after it declined to mount a defense, reported The Seattle Times.
"There's a religious conflict in some workplaces where employers make broad policies they then seek to implement, even if they prevent employees from being able to practice their religion," Omar's attorney Hardeep Rekhi, told The Seattle Times.
There are a variety of practices that at first glance might seem discriminatory but in fact are legal, AOL Jobs has reported. Very few states or municipalities have prohibitions against appearance discrimination.
However, appearance discrimination based on race, shade of skin color, gender, national origin, disability, religion or pregnancy are among protected categories, notes employment attorney Donna Ballman in AOL Jobs.
Lawsuits have been brought against employers by workers with religious-discrimination claims involving prayer during workshifts and head coverings.
American Patriot officials did not return calls Tuesday seeking comment.
Omar, who lives in SeaTac, Washington, said no one told him when he took the minimum-wage job in 2009 that he would have to shave his beard, which he keeps closely trimmed. He stated in court papers that he'd worked for the company for six months when he was asked by the regional manager to shave the beard in compliance with company grooming policy.
At the time, Omar said he explained that his strongly held religious beliefs required him as a Muslim man to wear a beard. The company suspended Omar without pay, according to court documents, when he contacted an Islamic advocacy group, which wrote to his employer explaining the religious rules.
Laurie Petersen edits AOL Jobs and is a long-time veteran of the working world. Follow her @lauriepete