Lawsuit Claims Marriott Discriminated Against Muslim Women Seeking Employment

July 29, 2006

Source: The Courier-Journal

On July 29, 2006 The Courier-Journal reported, "Shortly after the Marriott Louisville Downtown opened to great fanfare last year, four women claimed they were denied jobs as housekeepers because each wore a hajib, a traditional Muslim hair covering.

A lawsuit filed this week accuses the hotel's owners of unlawful discrimination for refusing to accommodate the women's religious practices.

It was filed in U.S. District Court in Louisville by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).

Marriott officials have not yet responded in court filings and declined to comment yesterday. 'We're still reviewing the litigation,' said hotel spokesman Robert Gunnell of Perits Public Relations.

The women filed charges with the EEOC on May 25, 2005, three days after they were denied employment, said Kenneth W. Brown, a senior EEOC attorney.

An employment agency had sent them to the hotel, where they were told they couldn't work after they refused to remove their hajib, said Brown, whose agency investigates complaints of discrimination in the workplace.

Title VII of the federal Civil Rights Act requires an employer to accommodate religious practices unless it poses an 'undue burden,' Brown said.

He said this is the first case in Kentucky he knows of involving Muslim women wearing the hair covering to work, but he said there have been other cases of discrimination because of religious practices in Kentucky and other states.

Brown said an EEOC investigation of the women's complaint did not find any reasonable grounds for why they could not cover their heads and still perform as housekeepers."