EEOC suit says school system made teacher choose: faith or job

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in Discrimination and Harassment

Safoorah Kahn was a middle school math coach in the tiny Chicago suburb of Berkeley. As a devout Muslim, she looked forward to making the hajj or pilgrimage to Mecca, something Muslims are expected to do once during their lifetimes.

Kahn asked the school district for three weeks of unpaid leave in early December to make the journey.

The school district refused the request, noting that she was the only math coach available. Kahn quit and went to Mecca anyway.

When she returned, she filed a religious discrimination complaint with the EEOC. In its investigation, the commission concluded the district probably discriminated against Kahn.  

The EEOC referred the case to the Justice Department.

In court, the district will make its undue burden case, noting its size and lack of a math substitute during Kahn’s absence. Kahn, backed by the federal government, will argue her faith required her to make the pilgrimage at her first opportunity, and her employer made her choose between her job and her faith.

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