Mack said he had been well-respected at the Whole Foods store at 20th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue in Philadelphia. He said he had been chosen to run the employees' assistance fund for workers who found themselves in trouble.
Mack said his troubles started after his supervisors discovered that he was going to use his vacation time for the once-in-a-lifetime pilgrimage many Muslims make to Mecca in Saudi Arabia, birthplace of the prophet Muhammad.
He said he requested time for the vacation months in advance of the November 2010 trip, and received approval.
But shortly before leaving, he said, his supervisors gave him a choice of keeping his job or going on the trip.
He went on the trip. When he returned, he didn't lose his job immediately, but he said, attitudes toward him had changed. Supervisors would follow him on his breaks to a back corner of the supply room where he typically went to pray. For privacy, Mack said he resorted to praying outside next to the Dumpster.
His lawyer, Amara Chaudhry, with the Philadelphia chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, said the company told Mack that he was being fired for absenteeism. But Pennsylvania's unemployment compensation board, she said, found he had not been warned so he was allowed to collect jobless benefits.
She said a complaint has been filed with U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, a statement that the agency would not confirm.
Contact staff writer Jane M. Von Bergen at 215-854-2769, email@example.com or @JaneVonBergen on Twitter.