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Working While Muslim: Islamophobia in the Workplace

Posted by Sean T. Olson | Apr 10, 2017 | 0 Comments

It is a tough time to be a Muslim in America. With anti-Muslim rhetoric spouted by many of this country's leaders, coupled with the growing impact of extremist Islamism in the aftermath of 9/11, tolerance towards this religious demographic has rapidly diminished. According to a recent study conducted by the Pew Research Center, approximately 40% of Americans believe that Muslims should be closely observed by authorities more than any other religious group. Despite Islam's many attempts to vehemently denounce extremist groups (ISIS) by labeling them un-Islamic, people continue to link the two contrary entities. As a result, peaceful, non-violent Muslims are facing great scrutiny in the United States and abroad.

Unfortunately, discrimination fueled by anti-Muslim sentiment has reared its ugly head in the workplace. An overwhelming number of Muslims are claiming they've been mistreated on their jobs. Whether it be a ban on hijabs or the denial of small breaks to say prayers, the increasing number of cases filed over time prove these situations are occurring far too often. One recent case of this phenomenon consists of a Muslim police officer in New York who alleges her colleagues terrorized, threatened and even physically attacked her because of her religion.

Danielle Alamrani joined the New York City Police Department in 2006 and converted to Islam the next year. Her lawsuit states that no issues arose until she began openly wearing a hijab in 2008. As the years passed, Alamrani had been subject to several accounts of abuse. It began with co-workers calling her names like “terrorist” and “Taliban,” along with snide remarks asserting she wasn't fit to be an officer. Then a few years later in 2012, Josephine Barone-Baur and Leanna Brown, both defendants named in the suit, tried to rip off her hijab and proceeded to call her a “Muslim bitch.” The harassment further escalated in 2014, when an officer from her department responded to a noise complaint at her home, and ultimately ended up detaining her and her children for eight hours.

Exhausted from the continual mistreatment, Alamrani reported the harassment to her department several times over the years. No action was taken on her behalf. Instead, she received undesirable shifts and was given limitations for her duties. The department's failure to act forced her into an early retirement in 2015.

Officer Alamrani's attorney, Jesse Rose, says that the police department could have improved relations and eased growing tensions in the community, instead, they implicitly encouraged the discriminatory behavior.

“The NYPD had the opportunity to show that the people who police us look like the community they police,” Rose said. “Instead, they put her to the side and changed her assignment so she was not visible to the public.”

If you feel like you have been treated unfairly due to your religion, race, gender, disability, age or sexual orientation, you may be eligible for compensation. Call the Olsen Law firm at our Denver office at 303-586-7297, or contact us online to set up a free consultation.

About the Author

Sean T. Olson

Sean Olson is a trial lawyer and founding member of the Olson Law Firm serving clients in Colorado and Wyoming. His practice focuses on providing unrivaled representation in and outside courtrooms at the state and federal level. Prior to founding the firm, Olson served the law enforcement and business communities as a partner at another prominent law firm and as an associate attorney at a national litigation firm.  Olson's experience at those firms allows him to offer the same high quality service provided by large Seventeenth Street law firms at a fraction of the cost.  Olson tailors his representation to the unique needs of each client, taking the time to determine his client's wishes prior to beginning work on a case. Olson received his J.D. from the University of Denver Sturm College of Law where he graduated in the top one percent of his class. Since 2010, Olson has served as an adjunct professor teaching trial advocacy at his Alma Mater.  He graduated from Drake University in 1995 with a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism and Mass Communication.  Super Lawyers named Olson a Rising Star for the last four years in a row. Olson is a resident of Denver where he lives with his wife, two young children, and their dog, Maisy.  Prior to becoming an attorney, Sean was an Emmy award winning photojournalist.  His passion for that job took him around the globe telling other's stories.  He now uses those skills to tell his clients' stories in courtrooms across Colorado and Wyoming.

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