Feds Sue District for Denying Teacher's Muslim Pilgrimage

Instructor was forced to quit to perform Hajj

By Nick McMaster,  Newser Staff

Posted Dec 14, 2010 5:32 PM CST

(Newser) – The Justice Department is suing a Chicago school for not allowing a Muslim teacher an unpaid break from work to perform the Hajj pilgrimage, AOL News reports. Math teacher Safoorah Khan asked for two weeks off in 2008 to visit Mecca in Saudi Arabia. The school denied her request because "the purpose of her leave was not related to her professional duties," court documents show.

Khan ultimately quit and went on the pilgrimage anyway, filing a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission along the way. "Because Berkeley School District denied her a religious accommodation, the district compelled Ms. Khan to choose between her job and her religious beliefs, and thus forced her discharge," the Justice Department's case says. Khan wants to be reinstated and is seeking unspecified damages.

Tens of thousands of Muslim pilgrims moving around the Kaaba, the black cube seen at center, inside the Grand Mosque, during the annual Hajj in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, Thursday, Nov. 18, 2010.
Tens of thousands of Muslim pilgrims moving around the Kaaba, the black cube seen at center, inside the Grand Mosque, during the annual Hajj in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, Thursday, Nov. 18, 2010.   (AP Photo/Hassan Ammar)
Tens of thousands of Muslim pilgrims moving around the Kaaba, the black cube seen at center, inside the Grand Mosque, during the annual Hajj in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, Thursday, Nov. 18, 2010.
Tens of thousands of Muslim pilgrims moving around the Kaaba, the black cube seen at center, inside the Grand Mosque, during the annual Hajj in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, Thursday, Nov. 18, 2010.   (AP Photo/Hassan Ammar)
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