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Monday, February 26, 2007

Complaints about religious discrimination in workplace on rise

Sehan Nabry, a school bus driver from Burnsville, said her boss confiscated her prayer mats and complained that her ritual hand and feet washing messed up an office bathroom.

Nabry said giving up her daily prayers, one of the five pillars of Islam, is not an option. Instead she did what an increasing number of Muslims are doing in Minnesota and around the country _ she sued.

"People told me I should just leave the job and find a new job, but I was thinking if I leave this job, theres no guarantee there wont be another manager like him," Nabry said. "I came to America for freedom. Why should I walk away?"

In Minnesota, the number of Muslims per year who filed federal complaints alleging religious discrimination at work climbed from four a decade ago to 66 last year. Nationally, the number has more than doubled since the mid-1990s.

Federal officials point to both the rising Muslim population and a post-Sept. 11 backlash as reasons for the increase. The ensuing lawsuits put the cherished American right to religious freedom against what many employers say is simply an effort to run an efficient business. [Link]

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