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Suit Says Asking for Prayer Breaks Ended Job Interview

CEO mocked her beliefs, interviewee says
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Sep 26, 2019 6:46 PM CDT
Lawyer Gadeir Abbas, right, listens as his client Shahin Indorewala describes the interview Wednesday that prompted her to file a religious discrimination lawsuit.   (AP Photo/Matthew Barakat)

(Newser) – A northern Virginia woman is suing a company that she says refused to hire her after she requested two five-minute breaks to pray during her shift. Shahin Indorewala, 26, says her interview with Fast Trak Management was going well until she asked if she could take the prayer breaks in exchange for a shorter lunch to accommodate her practices as an observant Muslim. She says in a lawsuit filed in federal court in Alexandria that the CEO then mocked her religious headscarf and refused to hire her, the AP reports. The CEO, Ramses Gavilondo, said he didn't hire her because she "wanted to preach her religion." He said the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission found no wrongdoing. "We ask people to keep religion to themselves," Gavilondo said. "I don't see the need for religious preaching in the 21st century."

Indorewala says she did no preaching of any kind. She said she had a good first job interview, and a second interview was cut short when she asked about prayer breaks. She tried speaking to Gavilondo and was taken aback by his hostile response, which she said included making fun of her hijab in front of the office and saying, per NBC, "We don't want these religious shenanigans here." Indorewala said she was embarrassed. "Am I really being made fun of for my religion in public?" she said Wednesday. One of her lawyers said employers are required to make reasonable accommodations for sincerely held religious beliefs unless doing so would pose an unreasonable burden on the employer.

(Read more religious beliefs stories.)

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