A Florissant woman said she was fired for the way she dressed and now a lawsuit has been filed on her behalf.
The company, St. Charles-based Client Services, Inc., said it has a dress code.
The woman, Mariam Soultan, said it's a matter of religious freedom.
"I felt really comfortable during the interview," Soultan said about the day she thought she had found a part-time job that was the perfect fit.
The job involved she had previously done and would also allow her to stay home most of the day with her three-year-old child.
"I was hired right then and I accepted the position," Soultan said.
On her first day of work as a phone operator for the company's collection center, she was pulled aside and questioned about her attire.
"He said will the head scarf be a problem with the head sets," said Soultan referring to the hands-free headset she was required to use.
"I said, 'It shouldn't be a problem. I've had experiences before with headsets and they fit fine on the head scarf," she said.
Soultan, a Muslim, wears the scarf as part of her religious beliefs. She doesn't go out in public without it.
Soultan said she was told the company has a dress code that doesn't allow scarves, hats or other head covering.
She also said the company told her she couldn't continue working there unless she gave up the scarf.
"I think if I give up my scarf this time for this job, who knows what I would give up next time," said Soultan.
She said she stood her ground and Client Services followed through by telling her not to come back to work.
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has now filed suit against the company.
"It isn't as if the employer doesn't have some ability to decline an accommodation if it's an undue hardship, but here there's no evidence in the EEOC's opinion of an undue hardship." said Rebecca Stith, EEOC senior trial attorney.
An attorney for Client Services declined comment, only to say "all the facts would come out in court" and that "the company has done nothing wrong."
Soultan said she wants justice for herself and freedom from discrimination for all.
"That's what the United States is about that's why we are here in this country," she said.
The EEOC is asking for back pay for Soultan and an undisclosed amount of punitive damages.[Link]
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