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A New York Times story discussed the increasing occurrence of discrimination against workers who are identified as Muslim. Last year, Muslim workers filed a record 803 claims of discrimination in the year ended Sept. 30, 2009. That was up 20 percent from the previous year and up nearly 60 percent from 2005, according to federal data.

Although Muslims make up less than 2 percent of the United States population, they accounted for about one-quarter of the 3,386 religious discrimination claims filed with the E.E.O.C. last year.

Complaints filed by Jews rose slightly in fiscal 2009, while complaints filed by Catholics, Protestants, Sikhs and Seventh-day Adventists declined. Claims of race, sex and age discrimination also fell.

The Times story lists various incidents of discrimination.

  • A women applying to Abercrombie & Fitch, claiming they refused to hire her because of her wearing a headscarf.
  • The EEOC sued the commission sued JBS Swift, a meatpacking company, on behalf of 160 Somali immigrants, saying supervisors and workers had cursed them for being Muslim; thrown blood, meat and bones at them; and interrupted their prayer breaks.
  • In June, the EEOC sued a Four Points by Sheraton hotel in Phoenix, asserting a hostile work environment where workers called an Iraqi immigrant a "camel jockey," mocked him with Arab ululations and taunted him over news items about captured terrorists.

An attorney at the EEOC's office in Phoenix said, "I've been doing this for 31 years, and I've never seen such antipathy toward Muslim workers."

The furor over the purposed mosque in Manhattan, near the site of the World Trade Center, also demonstrates the growing overt behavior of many Americans towards Muslims. The difficulty for many Muslims is they become a recognizable "symbol" of our involvement in a now nine-year-old war.

As frustration grows with a war that shows no sign of ending, people look for somewhere or someone on which to vent. Many of the incidents involved the wearing of a headscarf, a type of dress that makes the wearer very noticeable in the workplace.

The More Things Change...

The United States has a long history of racial antipathy towards those who are easily identified as being different or identifiable with the "other side" during wartime. During WWI, Germans endured intense hatred, as "patriotic" Americans forced German-American newspapers out of business, banned the teaching of German in school, forced pastors and priests to give sermons in English to congregations where no one spoke English.

During WWII, this behavior took on an even more disturbing quality, with the seizing of the homes and businesses of Japanese-Americans, and with their forcible relocation to internment camps.

Every generation likes to believe it is more enlightened that the one that proceeds it, that "it can't happen here (again?)." We have become socially more enlightened, agencies like the EEOC exist and we have anti-discrimination laws that prevent this behavior. The price of liberty is said to be eternal vigilance, and the bringing of lawsuits to protect employees civil rights is part of that price.

If you have suffered discrimination because of race, national origin, or religion, contact an attorney experienced with employment law and discrimination lawsuits. Such behavior is illegal, and a knowledgeable attorney can review the facts of your situation, and advise you of your rights and potential legal action. Contact Jachimowicz Law Group by calling 408-246-5500 for a free consultation.

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