A Muslim flight attendant in the Detroit area is suing her former employer, ExpressJet, for suspending her without pay in 2015 after she refused to serve alcohol to passengers.
The federal court case, filed by the Michigan chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), follows on the heels of a civil suit that was dismissed without a judgement by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Flight attendant Charee Stanley has requested back-pay and damages, alleging that the company did not make a reasonable effort to accommodate her religion.
“The bottom line is that when people who work in any industry decide to convert or change their faith from one practice to another, they should not be penalized as long as the employer can reasonably accommodate those individuals” Michigan executive director of CAIR, Dawud Walid, told Travel + Leisure Wednesday. “In our mind this is not a Muslim-specific issue.”
Stanley, 40, is a relatively new convert to Islam and she spoke to her manager as soon as she learned of her religious prohibition from serving alcohol. She arranged a system with her fellow flight attendant in which her coworker served all alcoholic beverages while Stanley served food and non-alcoholic drinks.
The arrangement eventually fell apart following a complaint from a new coworker. Stanley insisted that she remained fit to be a flight attendant, calling serving alcohol a “non-essential function” of her job during an interview with “The View” in September 2015.
“The primary responsibility [is] safety and security,” she said in the same interview, adding, “I loved my job.”
Authorities from ExpressJet, headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia, said the company valued diversity and refused to comment on the ongoing litigation, according to a statement.