Muslims Face Discrimination

August 1, 2000

Source: The Atlanta Journal and Constitution

On August 1, 2000, The Atlanta Journal and Constitution reported that 11 Somali Muslim women lost their jobs at "Hertz's car-rental outlet at Hartsfield International Airport July 17 because they said no when the boss told them to wear pants or knee-length skirts. They said their Muslim faith requires them to dress more modestly." In a letter to CAIR (Council on American-Islamic Relations), Hertz said the "crackdown came because 'there were at least five documented instances of Somali Muslim employees getting caught up in their garments and tripping and falling when entering or exiting a vehicle.'" Hertz was quick to offer the women their jobs back, but advocates "for roughly 50,000 Muslims in metro Atlanta say complaints of discrimination against Muslims in the business world are increasing as Islam grows in popularity and more immigrants from Islamic countries settle" in the Atlanta area. Certainly, the problem is not limited to Hertz. Many Muslims in Atlanta "have been fired for asking for a 5-minute prayer break, said Halima Kerlew, president of the Somali Refugee Family Foundation in Clarkston. Last year, 33 Somali Muslims quit their jobs at a Suwanee electronics plant because a manager wouldn't let them take prayer breaks. They were reinstated a month later and allowed to pray." Hertz said they are investigating allegations that Hertz managers called some Muslim women "trash" and "garbage."