Probably Zemanik was required to give her a lunch break after she worked a certain number of hours, even if she wasn’t going to eat. The diocese should not have settled in this ridiculous victimhood-mongering legal shakedown case, but probably figured it was easier than fighting it and being subjected to endless charges of “Islamophobia.”
“Muslim woman settles lawsuit against Easton church,” from the Pocono Record, January 3 (thanks to Twostellas):
A Muslim woman who claimed she was fired from her job as a bookkeeper at an Easton church because she complained about religious discrimination by the monsignor has settled a federal lawsuit she filed against the Diocese of Allentown.
The terms of the settlement between Omayma Arafa and the diocese have not been disclosed in court documents, and attorneys on both sides of the case did not return phone calls seeking comment.
A settlement conference had been scheduled for Dec. 22 in Philadelphia, but before the hearing, the parties notified federal Magistrate Judge L. Felipe Restrepo they had reached a settlement. Restrepo dismissed the case Dec. 16.
Arafa worked at St. Anthony of Padua Church in Easton from 2007 until January 2009, when she was let go. Her lawsuit, filed in May, said the trouble began when Monsignor Edward Zemanik was assigned to the church and immediately displayed a “cold, distant and hostile attitude” toward Arafa, who is from Egypt.
One day in August 2008, the suit says Arafa was eating pizza for lunch when Zemanik asked “You can eat that?” He went on to ask Arafa whether there were foods she couldn’t eat, according to Arafa’s suit.
The diocese’s response, filed in June, says Zemanik asked about Arafa’s dietary restrictions out of respect for her religious beliefs because the staff often ordered meals and he didn’t want to bring in food that she was forbidden to eat.
Arafa’s suit also alleged that during Ramadan, the month of fasting when Muslims refrain from eating during daylight hours, Zemanik required Arafa to “take lunch,” even though it meant sitting in her office not eating.
The diocese claims Zemanik insisted that his staff take a break during the day, even if they did not eat lunch.
In December 2008, Arafa said she asked Zemanik whether she would have the week off between Christmas and New Year’s Day as paid vacation. She alleges Zemanik asked “What do you care?” in a display of hostility toward Arafa’s religious beliefs.
In its response, the diocese denied Zemanik made the remark.
Arafa also claimed she was denied health care benefits that other part-time employees in the parish received. The diocese says those employees worked part time at St. Anthony and part time elsewhere in the diocese to qualify for benefits.
Arafa said she complained to the diocese’s human resources director about the alleged discrimination by Zemanik and a church volunteer, but no action was taken. She claims she was fired as retaliation for complaining about her treatment.
The diocese said it eliminated Arafa’s job at the church as a cost-saving measure.
The lawsuit sought compensation for Arafa’s back and future pay; pain, suffering and humiliation; and punitive damages.