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How do you avoid workplace discrimination because you're Muslim?

There's been an uptick in cases of workplace discrimination toward Muslim-Americans -- to the tune of 250 percent since before the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001.

Unfortunately, while America treasures the concept of religious freedom, fear has made much of the country suspicious of Muslims in general -- research in 2015 indicates that almost 40 percent of Americans feel like Muslims should be watched carefully on the basis of their religion alone -- even though the majority of Muslims are nothing like the extremists that capture headlines on the news.

How might you end up facing discrimination at work because of these sentiments?

1. Before you even get the job

An Arabic or Muslim sounding first name on your job application could be enough to start the discrimination and you might never know it.

However, a study in 2013 indicates that it's your social media profile that might be the most likely focus of scrutiny. Potential employers are looking harder at social media profiles to see just how religious their Muslim job candidates are. Those who expose their religious preferences and seem nonsecular end up with callback rates that are 13 percent lower than those with obviously Christian profiles.

2. After you are on the job

You may face discrimination related to a variety of religious customs, depending on exactly how devout you are and how you express your faith:

  • Beards or turbans for men and headscarves for women may be denied for "safety" reasons, even though there is no rational basis for the concern.
  • You may be denied the right to take a prayer break or refused the right to pray in the break room or any other area.
  • You may be refused accommodation for dietary issues or accommodation when it comes to your needs during the fasting period of Ramadan.
  • You may be subjected to demeaning comments and slurs based on your race, religion or family's origin -- or sometimes a combination of all three.

In the current, high-tension climate, it may not be hard to figure out that you're being discriminated against for being Muslim -- but it may take some careful planning if you want to win a lawsuit due to religious discrimination. Talk to an attorney as soon as possible about your rights so that you can plan your next steps with care.

Source: On Labor, "Workplace Discrimination Against Muslims," Karim Lakhani, accessed Sep. 29, 2017

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