According to a NY Times article, Muslim employees were discrimination by the MTA. Four Muslim women were barred from driving MTA buses and reassigned to depots because they refused to wear regulation caps over their head scarves. The MTA claimed it was enforcing a longstanding uniform code by requiring the women to wear the caps.
After an investigation by the Justice Department, the M.T.A. was accused of selectively enforcing the code to target Muslims and Sikhs. These actions further violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act by failing to reasonably accommodate the religious practices of employees.
The case never made it to trail as the MTA and the parties entered into settlement in which the MTA will pay $184,500 to eight present and former employees. Moreover, as part of the settlement agreement, the MTA must adopt new policies to reasonably accommodate employees’ religious practices.
One of the plaintiffs is Kevin Harrington, a subway train operator and a Sikh who wears a turban. Beginning in 2004, he said, his superiors asked him to remove his turban, arguing that passengers might not recognize him as an employee during an emergency. Mr. Harrington recently dismissed this idea, noting that during the 9/11 emergency, nobody saw him as “anything other than a train operator,” just like on 9/11 when he helped many passengers reach safety.
Religious discrimination and failure of an employer to make reasonable accommodations for religious practice can often lead to litigation for offended employees. If you are in a similar situation, contact the Harman Firm for a consultation.