Student files complaint, claims hijab cost her fast-food job

Troy, Michigan — A 19-year-old college student has filed a federal complaint against the McDonald’s on Crooks Road after she says she was turned down for a job at the restaurant for wearing a hijab, a religious head scarf.

Nasihah Barlaskar said she went to a job interview on March 27 and was surprised when a white female supervisor asked if she intended to wear “that thing” at work, referring to the hijab.

“I said, ‘Yes I do. It’s part of my religion’,” Barlaskar said. “She said I would not be able to wear it (the hijab) while working. I told her I could wear the (McDonald’s) cap over my hijab.”

Barlaskar said she was surprised by the treatment from the supervisor since she has friends who work at other local fast-food restaurants including McDonald’s that allow female employees to wear hijabs.

Barlaskar said she needs to work to help pay for college expenses and to help her family since her father lost his cab driving job last fall. But Barlaskar found out she didn’t get the job when she called the supervisor three days later.

She suspects she didn’t get it because of her decision to wear the hijab at work. “She told me she decided to go with someone else but I think I was discriminated against because of the hijab,” Barlaskar said.

The Equal Opportunity Employment Commission complaint was filed today by the Michigan Chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations on Barlaskar’s behalf.

“We urge McDonald’s to take immediate action to bring its hiring policies into compliance with long-established legal guidelines on reasonable religious accommodation in the workplace,” said Dawud Walid, CAIR-Michigan’s executive director.

Detroit News, 13 April 2010

See also “EEOC complaint filed against Mich. McDonald’s over hijab”, CAIR news release, 13 April 2010

CAIR point out that this is not the first time that McDonald’s has been accused of discriminating against women wearing hijab.