Woman was told by for employers to “get the f*** out” for refusing to change her scarf. She was “told black hijab made her look like a terrorist.”
The Muslim woman’s employers had allegedly ordered that she stop wearing her headscarf because it implies “terrorist affiliations.”
A recent change of heart?
She had been working for the estate agents Harvey Dean in Bury for a year before her employers began hassling her about her scarf.
The complaint, which was filed at the Manchester Employment Tribunal, expressed how the woman, who chooses to remain nameless, was told “that it would be in the best interest of the business for her to change the color of her hijab, due to the supposed terrorist affiliation with the color black”.
Apparently the mostly white community and non-Muslim community where she worked would often “feel intimidated and scared if they saw the claimant” shared a colleague.
The woman said she had no intention of changing her appearance for the discriminatory reasons given. “I was shocked at what they were asking and the reasons they were giving.”
After refusing several times, she took a meeting with one of the managers who had brought in several colored scarves for her to wear.
Even after all that, the final attack happened when she had replied to a text message from her father. According to the tribunal records the woman was reprimanded for the message.
“He then went on a tirade accusing the claimant of not working,”
It went on to say, “The claimant informed him that she was on her lunch break but he told her that he did not care [and] then proceeded to tell her to: ‘Get the f*** out of here.’”
She left the office and submitted her resignation letter a week after the incident, during which the company didn’t contact her.
As the only Muslim woman in the office, she felt she was often “singled out,” says the former housing sales negotiator. She claims that the company not only discriminated against her for her religion but also because of her gender.
In the tribunal complaint, she argues that her treatment had her living in an “intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating and offensive environment.” She believes she was the subject of unlawful discrimination.
The preliminary hearing will take place at the Manchester Employment Tribunal next month. If found guilty Harvey Dean, the agency in which she worked, can be expected to pay “aggravated damages” and expected to pay out loss of earnings, legal fees and holiday pay.
Religious discrimination awareness
The claimant expressed that any monetary gains will be of “secondary importance.” She adds “What is of primary importance to me over and above anything is that this serves as a warning to employers that such pressure upon employees is absolutely and categorically unacceptable based upon illogical ideas with no evidence.
“Young Muslim women, whether they attend schools, colleges or work in professional environments, should never have to feel that they have to compromise their religious beliefs or water down their Muslim identity for fear of intimidating people of other or no faith.”
Employment lawyer, Zillur Rahman representing the claimant on behalf of Rahman Lowe Solicitors, believes this case may become a precedent as it’s the first of its kind in the UK. This case follows a vital landmark ruling that was passed in March at the European Court of Justice.
Ban on religious symbolism
The ruling was passed by judges that allow companies to have the legal right to ban employees from wearing headscarves, however this is only applicable when they ban all religious symbols equally.
“An internal rule of an undertaking which prohibits the visible wearing of any political, philosophical or religious sign does not constitute direct discrimination,” the court ruled.”
“However, in the absence of such a rule, the willingness of an employer to take account of the wishes of a customer no longer to have the employer’s services provided by a worker wearing an Islamic headscarf cannot be considered an occupational requirement that could rule out discrimination.”
Harvey Dean had no such rule in place, claims the ostracized woman. She said that Muslim males in her workplace were allowed to have beards and she said that the staff handbook states that the company “does not seek to inhibit individual choice as regards appearances.”
The company are choosing to remain silent on the matter and are no available for comment.