But it denies discriminating against him. It looks as if the hospital paid just to make this suit go away, which may make sense for them in the short term, but — particularly given their non-admission of any discrimination — sets a precedent that will make it more difficult in the future for non-Muslim businesses and workplaces to refuse the demands of Muslim employees for special accommodation, no matter how unreasonable those demands may be. In my book Stealth Jihad last year I detailed many such demands, and this settlement only ensures that there will be many more to come.
“Religious discrimination case settled with hospital,” by Janell Ross in The Tennessean, April 30 (thanks to Rosine):
Southern Hills Medical Center in Nashville has agreed to pay a former employee $70,000 in damages after denying him time off to make a pilgrimage to Mecca but admitted no wrongdoing when it settled the religious discrimination case on Monday.
In late 2007, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission filed suit on behalf of Wali Telwar, a Muslim former Southern Hills medical technician who lives in Nashville.
He asked to visit Mecca
The hospital refused to allow Telwar to use just over 20 days of accumulated vacation time to take a trip to Mecca. Every Muslim is required to make the hajj “” a pilgrimage to the Saudi Arabian birthplace of the Islamic religion and its prophet “” in their lifetime.
Telwar, who had worked at the hospital for three years, also claimed he was told that if he insisted on attending the hajj he would have to quit his job and reapply when he returned.
Telwar resigned, according to the suit. When he returned, Southern Hills did not rehire him. The hospital hired three other medical technicians.
Southern Hills released a statement from CEO Tom Ozburn late Wednesday:
“As noted in the consent decree, we deny that we discriminated in any way against Mr. Telwar,” Ozburn said in the statement. “We have reached a settlement with the EEOC to close this matter.
“Southern Hills is committed to providing an inclusive work environment where everyone is treated with fairness, dignity, and respect.”
At the time the suit was filed, Southern Hills Marketing Director Karen Baker declined to comment on the details but said the hospital did not discriminate against Telwar and intended to defend its position vigorously.
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission sought court costs, unspecified back pay and other damages from the hospital. When the case was settled Monday, the hospital denied any wrongdoing and did not agree to pay Telwar’s legal costs.
But the hospital did agree to pay Telwar $70,000 in damages, to eliminate any reference to the discrimination claim in Telwar’s personnel file and to offer a neutral reference to any future employers.
Under the terms of the settlement agreement the hospital is barred from refusing to reasonably accommodate the sincerely held religious beliefs of any employee. The prohibition extends to the scheduling of vacation time and retaliating against any employee who has requested accommodation for a religious belief.
The hospital is also required to alter its policy manual within 90 days to provide instructions to employees about accommodating religious beliefs and must educate its employees and management about what constitutes religious discrimination.
The hospital must also generate two reports over the next 23 months detailing what requests for religious accommodation are made by employees, what accommodations were made and if no accommodation was made it must explain why.