Thursday, June 25, 2015

Religious Discrimination Claim Moves Ahead Against Loan Company Denying Entry To Woman Wearing Hijab

In Ali v. Advance America Cash Advance Centers Inc., (ED MI, June 24, 2015), a Muslim woman brought a discrimination lawsuit against an Inkster, Michigan financial services outlet that refused her entry under its policy that customers must remove sunglasses and hats before entering.  Plaintiff, who wanted to purchase a money order, was wearing a hijab.  A Michigan federal district court held that plaintiff's complaint did not allege racial discrimination under 42 USC 1981, nor did it allege national origin discrimination under Michigan's Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act.  However it did allege religious discrimination under the Michigan statute. The court refused to grant defendants summary judgment on this claim, holding that there remains a factual question regarding reasons for the policy.  Defendants claimed that it is a safety policy designed to deter criminal behavior and advance employee safety.  The policy only applies in the company's branches that lack bullet-resistant glass. Plaintiff claims that this reason is pretextual.