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Sterling Employment Law

Muslim man awarded $1.1M by Detroit jury for discrimination

A 56-year-old Muslim-American man was awarded one of the largest decisions ever granted in an employment discrimination case by a Detroit federal court jury on Feb. 27. According to the report, the plaintiff had arrived in Michigan more than twenty years ago and became a naturalized citizen. He held a job as a maintenance worker for 17 years with Washtenaw County.

During that time, he was not offered opportunities for advancement and was terminated from his position, allegedly in part because of his long beard, which is a religious mark of manhood for Muslims. After the loss of his job, the plaintiff lost his marriage, his home and became destitute. He chose to file a lawsuit claiming religious discrimination and wrongful termination.

According to the plaintiff's attorney, the verdict exemplifies what America represents; it demonstrates that it is possible for Americans to see past the outward appearance or social stigma and evaluate the evidence and facts to arrive at a fair decision. According to the plaintiff's former employer, the plaintiff was terminated due to his lack of qualification. The county denies that bias was a factor in the loss of his position and are planning to appeal the decision.

Laws at the state and federal levels provide protection from discrimination and harassment in the workplace. Individuals who may have been wrongfully terminated as the result of discrimination may seek recourse through a wrongful termination lawsuit. An attorney may review the circumstances under which a person was terminated to determine whether a lawsuit may be warranted. If the employer does not agree to a settlement outside of court, the case might be litigated before a jury in civil court.

Source: CBS Detroit, "Detroit Jury Awards Muslim Man A Record $1.1M In ‘Beard-Related’ Discrimination Case", February 28, 2014

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