She asked for "almost three weeks of unpaid leave" so that she could go on the hajj. She wrote that "based on her religious beliefs, she could not justify delaying performing hajj," although since a Muslim has his or her entire lifetime to perform the hajj, it's unclear what would have made it impossible for her to justify delaying doing so -- was she in imminent danger of death?
If she wasn't, there was no reason why she had to go on the hajj at that time. And since the Islamic calendar is a lunar one with a year of 355 days, the time to perform the hajj moves by ten days every year. All she had to do was wait until the time for the hajj fell during summer vacation, and then there would have been no problem.
But instead, she demanded three weeks of leave. Yet three weeks of leave, even unpaid, out of the school year is a significant chunk of time -- after all, the school year is only about nine months long. So she is essentially demanding to keep her job despite being away for nearly a tenth of the time during which the job is to be performed.
And now Obama's Justice Department, ever accommodating to Islamic demands, is suing on her behalf. Yet this is clearly just another attempt to force American workplaces to change the way they operate in order to accommodate Muslims, once again reinforcing the principle that where Islamic law and practice and American law and practice conflict, it is American law and practice that have to give way.
"Justice Department Sues School for Refusing to OK Teacher's Pilgrimage to Mecca," from the Associated Press, December 13 (thanks to all who sent this in):
The federal government sued a suburban Chicago school district Monday for denying a Muslim middle school teacher unpaid leave to make a pilgrimage to Mecca that is a central part of her religion.
In a civil rights case, the department said the school district in Berkeley, Ill., denied the request of Safoorah Khan on grounds that her requested leave was unrelated to her professional duties and was not set forth in the contract between the school district and the teachers union. In doing so the school district violated the Civil Rights Act of 1964 by failing to reasonably accommodate her religious practices, the government said....
Khan started as a middle school teacher for Berkeley School District 87 -- about 15 miles west of Chicago -- in 2007. In 2008, she asked for almost three weeks of unpaid leave to perform the Hajj. After the district twice denied her request, Khan wrote the board that "based on her religious beliefs, she could not justify delaying performing hajj," and resigned shortly thereafter, according to the lawsuit filed in federal court in Chicago.
Berkeley School District compelled Khan to choose between her job and her religious beliefs, the lawsuit said.
The government asked the court to order the school district to adopt policies that reasonably accommodate its employees' religious practices and beliefs, and to reinstate Khan with back pay and also pay her compensatory damages....