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Thursday, December 16 2010

A pretty remarkable situation is occurring in Berkeley, IL. 


It seems a middle school teacher at Berkeley School District 87, Safoorah Khan, resigned her position a while back because the district denied her request for three weeks of unpaid leave.  She had requested that lengthy time off on the grounds that she is a devout Muslim who wanted to participate in the Hajj (the Islamic pilgrimage to Mecca).


But the story doesn't end there.  Khan wants her job back, and then some.

In November 2008, Khan filed a complaint with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which found reasonable cause that discrimination had occurred and forwarded the matter to the Justice Department.


And how has the Obama Justice Department handled this case?  I bet you'd never guess:

The government asked the court to order the school district to adopt policies that reasonably accommodate its employees' religious practices and beliefs, and to reinstate Khan with back pay and also pay her compensatory damages.

It's the position of the Obama Justice Department that the school has violated the Civil Rights Act of 1964 by failing to provide for and reasonably accommodate the religious traditions of its staff.


So here's a hypothetical question for you to consider.  Suppose I requested 3 weeks of unpaid leave to take a trip to Israel to visit the Holy Land.  If my school refused to grant me that time off - given that it is not a negotiated part of the employee contract - would the Obama administration step in on my behalf?


The answer is pretty obvious.  And that begs the question: what is special about Ms. Khan?  Or perhaps the better question: what is special about Ms. Khan's religious choice that it gets preferential treatment?

Posted by: Peter Heck AT 08:25 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email

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