Boston, Holt & Durham, PLLC

Employment law exists to protect rights of all workers in America

There is one group of American citizens in Tennessee who hope that the outcome of the midterm elections will result in a benefit for them that will help them in the workplace. Muslim-American women are subject to employment discrimination because of the hijab, or head coverings, they wear as part of their religious practice. Discrimination based on religion is a violation of employment law. Two Muslim-American women were elected to U.S. Congress in November. One of their goals is to pass a religious exemption for the 180-year-old law that prohibits wearing hats on the floor of the House of Representatives.

A woman in Knoxville is suing Walmart for religious discrimination. She claims she was denied vacation time during the Muslim holy days of Ramadan and says she was harassed by managers and co-workers because of the religious accommodations she requested. She was asked to show where the Quran specified that pork and alcohol are forbidden. Some Muslim women feel they face a choice of religious observance or feeding their families. Others go out of their way to smile and always be friendly in an attempt to battle the discrimination they experience in public and in the workplace.

A young woman who wears a hijab and works as a beauty consultant senses that customers are hesitant to ask for her assistance. She is extra friendly and always smiling in an attempt to overcome their hesitation. Her experiences have inspired her to try to emulate the women who won seats in November. She is adding political science to her college plans.

The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution states that Congress cannot make laws respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise of religion. In some religions, clothing serves as an expression of religion. Father Drinan, who was a Congressional representative from Massachusetts, wore a priest's suit and collar the entire time he served. Employment law exists in part to protect a person's right to work and to enable one to practice one's religion without fear of reprisal in Tennessee and around the country.

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