According to Webster’s dictionary, a phobia is an exaggerated, usually inexplicable and illogical fear of a particular object, class of objects, or situation.

Islamophobia is the irrational fear of those that believe in the Islamic faith, namely Muslims. While it existed before the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, it increased dramatically in the past several years.

What is Islamic Employment Discrimination?

Islamic employment discrimination, which can also be considered Anti-Muslim employment discrimination, is illegal religious discrimination. Discrimination occurs when an employer treats an employee or job applicant differently, or less favorably, for a specific reason.

In that regard, an employer who treats an employee or job applicant less favorably because he or she is Muslim is committing employment discrimination.

What Can’t My Employer Do?

In most cases, an employer cannot:

  • Ask a job applicant about their religious affiliation;
  • Refuse to accommodate a Muslim’s prayer obligations;
  • Prohibit hijabs or insist that an employee who observes hijab be segregated from the public; and
  • Create or permit a hostile or harassing environment based on religious intolerance.

Does My Employer Have Any Defenses?

It depends on the facts and circumstances surrounding the case. In general, an employer is permitted to base their hiring decisions on a legitimate, non-discriminatory reason that is a necessary requirement of a job, also known as a bona fide occupational qualification.

Further, an employer does not have to accommodate a religious practice if it would cause undue hardship, such as causing workplace safety issues.

What Should I Do if I Believe I Have Suffered Islam Employment Discrimination?

If you believe that you have suffered an adverse employment action because of your Islamic faith, you have two primary options: filing a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), or filing a civil lawsuit against your employer.

To file a formal complaint with EEOC, you must do so within 15 days from the day you received notice from an EEO Counselor about how to file a complaint. In your discrimination complaint, you must include the following:

  • Your personal information (name, address, telephone number);
  • A short description of the events that you believe were discriminatory;
  • Why you believe you were discriminated against; and
  • A short description of your injury.

The EEOC will investigate your complaint within 180 days from the day you filed. You will have the opportunity after the investigation is over to either request a hearing before an EEOC Administrative Judge or ask the agency to issue a decision as to whether discrimination occurred.

If I Suffer from Islam Employment Discrimination, What Remedies Are Available to Me?

If you were the victim of Islam discrimination, you may be entitled to a variety of damages. These damages may include:

  • Economic damages (reimbursement of lost wages and out-of-pocket expenses);
  • Non-economic damages (compensation for pain and suffering);
  • Job reinstatement; and/or
  • Punitive damages (damages that punish an employer for serious misconduct).

Depending on the federal, state, or municipal law, you may also be entitled to reimbursement of your attorney fees.

Should I Seek Advice from an Employment Attorney?

Muslim employment discrimination claims can be complicated and contentious. The first step is always to notify your HR department and/or manager. But, if they refuse to take action then the next step is file a claim with the EEOC. If the EEOC is unable to resolve the issue, then once they issue a Notice of Right to Sue, you can contact a local lawyer.

A local employment lawyer can guide you through the legal process, educate you about your rights, and maximize your potential recovery.