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Headscarf Policy Costs Georgia City in Discrimination Lawsuit

A woman going to court in a Georgia city to provide support for a relative was put in an awful situation and it took a lawsuit to change a discriminatory based policy, Thomson Reuters reports.

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Religious discrimination in New York has no place in this country, which was founded on religious freedom. Yet people face difficult situations in this country every day based on their religion.

In this case, the woman walked into a courtroom wearing a headscarf and a security guard manning a metal detector told her she couldn’t wear the headscarf in court. She told him that policy was discriminatory and she was ordered to remove the headscarf, was placed in handcuffs and arrested and taken to jail on a charge of contempt of court.

Muslim headscarves signify modesty as they cover a woman’s neck and hair. But headscarves have sparked controversy in the United States and Europe. In France, the country has banned them on school grounds.

A lawsuit later filed by the woman — who had her charges dropped — alleged that by forcing her to remove the headscarf, the policy violated her constitutional right to freedom of religion. She alleged the actions caused “severe discomfort, humiliation and emotional distress.”

While some people would argue that not allowing people to wear headscarves is a matter of national security, that, too, is discriminatory. While many Americans’ views of the Muslim world are tainted by a small group of extremists, that doesn’t give municipalities or companies a right to discriminate.

What policies like these do is place one religious group over another. Those who don’t wear headscarves are given preference over those who do. If your religion caused you to take certain time out of the day or wear something and your boss told you you couldn’t, you would feel angry, upset, disappointed and most of all, singled out.

These things shouldn’t be happening in our country. We were raised to believe that everyone is equal and given equal opportunities, but discrimination quashes that theory. Whatever the form, whether based on religion, race, age, gender, disability, sexual orientation or a host of other protected categories, discrimination is not only wrong, but it’s unlawful.

If this happens to you or a loved one, don’t allow it. Fighting back is the only way to make a change. Like this woman, she didn’t back down, but she forced the city’s hand by making them change their policy in order to ensure all people are treated equally.

The Law Offices of Ira S. Newman provides employment law legal counsel in New York City, Long Island, Great Neck and throughout the area. Call 516-487-7375 or contact us through the website.

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Additional Resources:

Georgia city revises headscarf policy after lawsuit, by David Beasley, Thomson Reuters