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Erecting barriers: Muslims face job, workplace discrimination in US

NEW YORK, USA: The Muslim community in the United States of America (USA) can be regarded as the most discriminated population living there. The USA carries a long history of maintaining racial discrimination till later years of 1900. The September event of 9/11 in 2001 left no respect ‘as a good citizen’ for the Muslims there in the US. Other than the discrimination embedded in the social arrangements, the Muslims working in almost all the economic sectors and departments faced vehement opposition and discrimination. The reason was to ‘punish’ the Muslims for the World Trade Centre terrorists attack.

Whatever the reason or the cause has been, the intelligentsia of the US decided to come ahead and to have one awareness campaign about it. One campaign approached while marking the UN’s International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.

Among the topics covered were Islamophobia, anti-Semitism and the far right. The purpose was to research on the causes of this discrimination in particular of recruitment. The debates presented were notable. The employment issues were mainly highlighted. To anyone who is aware of the scale and severity of the problem, this will serve a good length of understanding.

This discrimination is deeply rooted in the US system. One major issue is interview discrimination. A study from the University of Oxford recently showed that black and Asian people have to spend almost twice as many job applications as white people before they get a response. As if that wasn’t bad enough, the rate of discrimination was a little better than 50 years ago. The result of this discrimination is that jobs and job opportunities both have become unbearable and impossible respectively.

One quite surprising finding in this regard is the attitude of Indian diaspora living in the major cities of the USA that exercises its dominating policies and decisions vis-à-vis with the recruitment of Muslims.

Encouraged by the already prevalent discriminatory attitude and behaviour, the Indian entrepreneurs maintain the same policy of discrimination towards Muslims. One such example was observed when a Hindu officer of aUS-based Indian company IT Priyanka Kumari clearly stated that “Muslim candidates should not be recruited”. This was posted by the company itself on LinkedIn.

After complaints surfaced, the company shifted the blame on ‘hackers’. The company’s website is silent about it.

The prominent figures of the society came forward. They had the first-hand knowledge of the issue. Providing their outcomes they spoke about it.

“Muslims face growing bias in the workplace”, observed Eve Tahmincioglu, an award-winning journalist, editor, social media and web analytics expert at MSNBC.com.

“Claims of discrimination against Muslim workers — which spiked immediately after 9/11 and then dissipated — are showing signs of resurgence. ‘There is a hatred, an open hatred, and a lack of tolerance for people who are Muslim,’ said Mary Jo O’Neill, regional attorney for the Phoenix district office of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission,” she wrote while elaborating a surge in discrimination complaints.

Claims of bias against Muslims at workplace soar to 1,490 last year from 1,304 in 2008 and just 697 in 2004, according to EEOC figures. Last year’s total was even higher than in the year after the 9/11 attacks when bias claims hit 1,463. Figures from this year are not yet available.” All these incidents are an open violation of the Federal Law.

“[A] security company violated federal law when it terminated a security officer for wearing a religious headscarf and threatened to terminate other Muslim employees if they wore religious garments while on duty, the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit it announced today. The EEOC further charged that Imperial Security has forced a class of Muslim employees to compromise their religious beliefs by removing their [religious head coverings] while on duty or risk termination.”

The EEOC reports show that there have been still a large number of cases of job discrimination against Muslims.

Clothing retailer Abercrombie & Fitch, Co. violated federal law when it refused to hire a Muslim job applicant because she wore a hijab (religious headscarf), the [EEOC] charged in a workplace discrimination lawsuit filed today. In March 2008, the 18-year-old female applied for a job stocking merchandise at the ‘Abercrombie Kids’ store. In accordance with her religious beliefs, she wore a colourful headscarf to her interview. The Abercrombie & Fitch manager…marked ‘not Abercrombie look’ on the young woman’s interview form. The EEOC’s suit alleges that Abercrombie & Fitch refused to accommodate the applicant’s religious beliefs by granting an exception to an internal dress code that includes a prohibition against head coverings.

A young man with an engineering degree from the Houston University received the lethal kind of discriminative behaviour while on the job that was working as an automobile engineer in the Dallas city. He went through severe psychological pressure. Finally, he left the job and returned to Houston to live with his parents.

Job discrimination has become a pressing issue of USA mainstream economic sectors and hubs. The discrimination that was a result of 9/11 and that shook the civilisation of humanity in the form of War on Terror is still lingering to haunt the lives of Muslims in the USA.