Restaurant makes good after religious discrimination slip-up

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in Discrimination and Harassment,Employment Law,Human Resources

Maryam Abdi, a 16-year-old who was denied a job at an Old Country Buffet restaurant because of her Islamic headscarf, has been hired for the position she sought.

Abdi applied for a part-time cashier position at the company’s Fridley restaurant in July. The manager who interviewed her reportedly asked whether she would be willing to remove her headscarf to comply with the restaurant’s uniform policy. Abdi said that she wore the scarf at all times as a religious practice, but she could wear one that matched the uniform. Her manager said this would still violate company policy. He told her she could reschedule the interview if she agreed to take off the scarf.

In response to a complaint filed by the Minnesota chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-MN), Eagan-based Buffets Inc. apologized to Abdi, invited her back to finish the interview and finally hired her.

The company also agreed to comply with laws prohibiting religious discrimination and conduct workplace sensitivity and diversity training.

Taneeza Islam, CAIR-MN civil rights coordinator, said, “We thank Buffets Inc. for its prompt and professional handling of this incident.”

Note: CAIR’s well-publicized praise illustrates that a company can turn around a bad situation with a prompt, genuine response to a complaint.

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