A group that advocate Muslim causes, the Council on American-Islamic Relations, has filed a lawsuit on behalf of Charee Stanley – a 40-year-old Muslim flight attendant employed by the ExpressJet. CAIR – which frequently speaks on behalf of Muslims and has filed numerous lawsuits – has accused the airline of improperly suspending Stanley because of her refusal to serve alcohol to inflight passengers.
Detroit and environs – especially Dearborn – have one of the largest concentrations of Muslims in the country. Dearborn is home to the largest mosque in the country.
The case was filed in federal court and follows a 2015 discrimination complaint that was filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. The case was dismissed by the EEOC, which did not determine whether or not ExpressJet had violated the law. Stanley contends that the air carrier did not provide reasonable religious accommodation for her beliefs. She is seeking unpaid wages and other damages. In the summer of 2015, Stanley was put on unpaid leave. The airline stated that it does value diversity, but would not comment about ongoing litigation.
Back in 2015, ExpressJet agreed to provide religious accommodation to Stanley. The airline said that she could make arrangements with other flight attendants on duty so that they would serve the alcohol instead. Once a fellow flight attendant complained, however, Stanley was suspended for a year, according to Attorney Lena Masri of CAIR. Masri told CNN in a 2015 interview that the airline must "provide a safe environment where employees can feel they can practice their religion freely." Masri said that the complaint was discriminatory because an employee said that Stanley had taken to wearing a hijab.
Stanley had worked for the Atlanta-based ExpressJet airline for almost three years. During that time she was converted to Islam. It was in June 2015 that she told a supervisor that Islam not only forbids consuming alcohol but also forbids serving and selling it.
"At ExpressJet, we embrace and respect the values of all of our team members,” said an emailed statement last year from ExpressJet. “We are an equal opportunity employer with a long history of diversity in our workforce," the statement said. Atlanta-based ExpressJet employs 9,000 people and has 388 planes that average 2,200 flights every day, according to the airline.
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