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ExpressJet accused of religious discrimination by former employee

For many flight attendants in Texas, being asked to serve alcohol on the plane is not usually a big deal. However, when doing so goes against one's religious beliefs, the situation is not so easy. A woman who was a flight attendant for ExpressJet claims that she was fired for religious discrimination because she would not serve drinks while she was working.

Two years into the plaintiff's tenure, she converted to Islam. According to her new religious beliefs, she would no longer be able to consume alcohol or to serve it. The plaintiff allegedly told her superior about her situation and was instructed to get another co-worker to serve the drinks. The arrangement appeared to accommodate the plaintiff's accommodation and not cause undue hardship to the airline.

Everything seemed to be working out until another flight attendant purportedly complained that the plaintiff was not fully doing her job because she would not serve alcohol. The co-workers allegedly also complained that the plaintiff would wear a headdress and had a book with her that had foreign writing inside it. The plaintiff claims she was sent a letter that no longer permitted her religious accommodation and placed her on an administrative leave. She was also told that she may lose her job after one year.

The woman turned to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which filed a religious discrimination claim on her behalf in a federal court. ExpressJet contends that it has always embraced diversity and values all of its employees. Texas workers should not have to make the decision between their jobs and their sincerely held religious beliefs. Based on evidence of discrimination, aggrieved workers may be awarded financial relief and be reinstated into their former positions if applicable.

Source: cnn.com, "Muslim flight attendent claims discrimination", Emanuella Grinberg and Carma Hassan, Sept. 6, 2015

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