EEOC alleges bias against Philadelphia woman

Posted: July 19, 2012

Tahira B. El, a practicing Muslim, faced religious discrimination when she was fired by her employer, a security company providing guards to the Pennsylvania Convention Center, because she refused to remove a head scarf she wore for religious reasons, according to a federal lawsuit filed in Philadelphia on her behalf Wednesday by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

The suit said that El, of Philadelphia, was hired by ABM Security Services, of California, to work at the center on Feb. 21, 2011. She was fired the next day, the suit said, when she showed up in uniform, wearing the khimar, which covers her hair and ears, but not her face.

Because the Convention Center did not employ El, it is not named in the suit, but "we would not prohibit anyone from expressing their religious beliefs," convention center director Ahmeenah Young said in a statement.

ABM said some clients require adherence to a strict uniform code. The company said in a statement that it was disappointed that EEOC filed the suit because El was given the opportunity to work elsewhere but declined.

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