Whitehall Jewelers Sued for Refusing to Hire Muslim Woman Wearing Headscarf


Posted Jul 10, 2007      •Permalink      • Printer-Friendly Version
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Fairfield, California Store Suggests Customers Would Not Like It

(San Francisco, July 10) - A Fairfield, Calif., woman filed suit today against a national jewelry retailer for refusing to hire her because she wore an Islamic headscarf. Shereen Attia, a 24-year-old American born in New York of Egyptian and Italian descent, was told she would not be hired as a sales associate at Whitehall Jewelers in the Solano Mall because she had begun wearing a religious head covering—despite previously working successfully for the same company in the same position.

Attia is represented by the nonprofit Asian Law Caucus ( http://www.asianlawcaucus.org) and the San Francisco law firm of Minami Tamaki LLP (http://www.mltsf.com). . .

“I felt betrayed,” said Attia, a Sacramento State student who has worked throughout college to support her family. “I had worked for the company for more than a year and had a proven track record. I was a good sales person. I’m still the same person with the same personality. I never expected to face such discrimination just because of my appearance…”

Sinnar noted that the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has received more than 1,000 complaints of “post-9/11 backlash discrimination” in the last five years and that a study by the Discrimination Research Center found that job applicants with South Asian or Middle Eastern names were least likely to be hired by California “temp” agencies. See http://drcenter.org/employment.htm#names.

After recovering from the shock of being rejected for her former job, Attia contacted the Sacramento Valley chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-SV), which referred her to the Asian Law Caucus. According to Basim Elkarra, executive director of CAIR-SV, his office frequently hears from local Muslims who have been harassed, denied religious accommodations, or deprived of other employment opportunities because of their faith.

The complaint in Attia v. Whitehall Jewellers, Inc., was filed in Solano Superior Court. For a copy of the complaint, see: http://www.asianlawcaucus.org