Sunday, October 16, 2011

Obama DOJ Forces School District To Pay Muslim Teacher $75K Over Special Leave For Mecca Trip During School Year

You may remember a story I reported on last December about the Obama Justice Department filing suit against the Berkeley School District in Illinois on behalf of Safoora Kahn, a Muslim teacher because the district denied her three weeks special leave during the school term in order to attend the Haj in Mecca.

The Haj, for those of you who don't know is a religious pilgrimage to the Saudi city of Mecca. It's a religious duty all Muslims are supposed to perform once in their lifetime if they are able, where they prostrate themselves before the Ka'aba and a meteorite known as the Sacred Black Stone and perform rites virtually unchanged since it was a pagan idol dedicated to Lah, the Arabian Moon God.

And it lasts all of five days, not the three weeks Khan requested.

Nevertheless, after her request was denied twice, Khan resigned, went to Mecca and filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) which referred it to the Department of Justice. They sued on her behalf, and believe it or not, they won.

Safoorah Khan’s religious discrimination lawsuit against the Berkeley School District ended with a settlement that forced the district to pay $75,000 in lost back pay, compensatory damages and attorneys’ fees, not to mention the costs the district incurred in defending itself.

The settlement also requires the district to develop a policy for accommodating religions - and let's be honest, we're only talking about Islam here - including mandatory training on religious accommodations to all board of education members and school supervisors.

“I’m glad that we settled and I hope this does set a precedent,” Khan said. “I hope they realize that hajj means a lot to Muslims and there will be more and more people taking the trip. I hope this helps people and their employers to accommodate Muslims and their requests.”

That statement is a clue as to how this went down. I can almost guarantee that Ms. Kahn talked to her friends at CAIR first before quitting her job and filing the EEOC complaint, which cost her nothing and cost the school district she worked for $75,000, the cost of defending itself against her lawsuit and the cost of hiring a replacement when she resigned in the middle of a school year.

I guarantee you, the Obama DOJ would not have taken a similar case for a Catholic teacher seeking three weeks off for Holy Week, or a Jewish teacher seeking three weeks off for the ten day period between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.

The first commandment of the Obama Administration - Thou shalt appease Islam at all times.

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Zachriel said...

Joshua Pundit: I guarantee you, the Obama DOJ would not have taken a similar case for a Catholic teacher seeking three weeks off for Holy Week, or a Jewish teacher seeking three weeks off for the ten day period between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.

That is incorrect. The law is clear that employers must reasonably accommodate the religious practices of an employee unless it causes an undo hardship to the employer. The only thing the employee got in this case was back pay.

Rob said...

I'm afraid I don't see it that way.

The key phrase is 'reasonably accomodate', an dthis was far from 'reasonable'.

A) The Haj takes 5 days, not 3 weeks.

B) She's only obligated to go once in her lifetime. She could easily have used her 2 weeks paid vacation to do so, or waited until the next year. 'religious accommodation' was not an issue.

c) She's a school teacher and it was the middle of the school year. Barring a serious medical emergency, no school is going to give a teacher three weeks of leave in addition to her paid vacation to attend a religious festival that takes five days - nor should they.That is an undue hardship writ large, not only for the administration but for the children unfortunately in this teacher's charge.

The district likely settled for two reasons. One, litigation's expensive and this was the cheaper way out. Two, the lawsuit originally sought reinstatement. This way, they're rid of this selfish, irresponsible and dysfunctional teacher without having to go through Skelly hearings or joust with the union. The suit itself, according to one expert I spoke with on the matter was not even within EEOC guidelines.

In a way, that was selfish of the district as well since this establishes a ridiculous precedent designed to give Islam special 'rights' over other faiths, but I can at least understand their attitude.

Zachriel said...

Rob: The district likely settled for two reasons.

An uncontested fact was that no effort was made at accommodation as required by law. They said Hajj or her job.

Rob said...

Apparently the term 'reasonably accommodate' isn't ringing a bell with you.

First you have no evidence they said 'Haj or your job'. Remember she resigned, she wasn't terminated.

She wanted three weeks off in the middle of the school year to attend a religious pilgrimage that lasts five days and refused to use her paid vacation time to do it.She certainly knew when the Haj was and could have planned her vacation around it, or taken one week off rather than three. That's unreasonable, and again, as someone who works with EEOC regs everyday informed me, it's not even part of the EOCC guidelines.

You're simply misinformed.

Anonymous said...

Westerners are basically dummies with your PC BS.
I'm originally from an Arab country & no one is ''accomodated'' for the Haj. This woman would have been fired in a nanosecond, her demand would have been met with disbelief & laughter. I wouldn't even give time to pray for my employees, it was basically BS.

Terry, Eilat - Israel

Old School said...

I find it difficult to credit your opinion.

Here in the UK, which is far more politically correct than America no schoolteacher would receive 3 weeks leave mid term. They would have to schedule their annual holiday in accordance.

I understand your laws may differ,but this is ridiculous.

Knowing a bit about American jurisprudence, I feel reasonably confident that the school realised that it was far better to pay this woman off and be rid of her than to continue on legally, even though they might have prevailed.