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Lawsuit: Man Was Fired Over Muslim Prayers

7 November 2011 General 5 Comments Email This Post Email This Post

CHICAGO (CBS) — A Chicago man is suing his former employer in federal court, claiming he was fired because of his religious beliefs.

As WBBM Newsradio’s David Roe reports, Nathan Henderson is suing the American Bottling Company, headquartered at 15320 S. Halsted St. in Harvey.

LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s David Roe reports

Henderson claims he was fired as a delivery man after he asked his boss to allow him to plan his breaks on Fridays around Islamic prayers.

Henderson says he would conduct a prayer during his downtime between soda deliveries, which usually lasted 5 to 10 minutes.

But when he asked to take a lunch break from 1 to 2 p.m. on Fridays so he could participate in weekly Jumu’ah prayers, his manager Bill Hatten said “No, we don’t do that,” the suit said.

Henderson then asked if he could work on Saturdays instead of Fridays to make up the hours, to which he was told Saturday shifts were reserved for employees with the most seniority.

Hatten allegedly said: “I wish you would have told me you had this obligation before we hired you. We would not have hired you. Maybe you need to look for another job.”

The following Monday, Henderson came to work and discovered his timesheet was not in its slot. He was told to wait in the cafeteria, where he sat for four hours before being told by a branch manager “it was not working out” and he was terminated immediately, the suit said.

When asked for an explanation, the manager said, “We just got to let you go.”

The suit alleges Henderson’s time for prayer did not in any way affect the timeliness of his deliveries or his overall job performance, and that he was never reprimanded or disciplined prior to his Friday prayer request.

He was also never given a reason for his termination.

The Chicago office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations filed the complaint on behalf of Henderson, who they say was “unjustly fired.” The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission found the “evidence established reasonable cause to believe that the company discriminated against [Henderson] because of his religion, a release from CAIR-Chicago said.

The suit seeks all wages and benefits Henderson would have received; compensatory damages; injunctive relief against the company to cease and desist from discriminatory behavior; punitive damages; additional relief and attorney fees. It also demands a jury trial.

No bottling company representative available for comment Thursday evening.

The Sun-Times Media Wire contributed to this report.

Original post: Lawsuit: Man Was Fired Over Muslim Prayers

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5 Comments »

  1. This is ridiculous! Whatever happened to freedom of religion? He should be given the time to be able to do a prayer which only takes a few minutes!

  2. There is more to this story than we are reading. Perhaps it is in relation to a schedule that must be followed or kept in regards to the deliveries. It may be the amount of compensation or a lessening degree of difficulty given to a driver for working on saturdays. We are just not getting the whole story here.

  3. A muslim NOT suing an employer…..now THAT would be news.

  4. harmony,

    what if the prayer took an hour? what if your religion required you to pray 50 times a day. how has his freedom of religion been denied. he was simply denied this job. much like when people say that freedom of speech is not denied when a hotel doesn’t allow a group to hold a conferenece, their freedom of speech isn’t denied.

    so if i’m a customer and i want my product delivered at 12:30, the company says sorry i have a muslim driver and he has to pray at that time because of the lunar calender, should the company be forced to lose that customer?

    what if i go to the emergency room at a hospital with only muslim doctors at prayer time, should i be forced to wait for treatment. do muslim polits take prayer breaks while in flight. this is a ridculous precident to try and set. much like the lawsuits at electrolux, disneyland, (2)ambercrombie and fintch, the hospitals in philly and jersey, the amusement park in ny, the airports in phoniex and kansas city, demanding female only time at university gyms, etc, etc.

    so much for islam being compatable with western norms. muslims are doing themselves no favors with this kind of behavior.

  5. m2 we can delay our prayers and combine them if the situation warrents it. so if the drs at an e rare all muslim not one of them would stop for prayers if there was a life threatening mass emergency ie a car pile up or burning building…

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