Catholic World News

Justice Dept.: school should have permitted teacher to make Mecca pilgrimage

October 18, 2011

The United States Department of Justice has announced that a suburban Chicago school district must pay $75,000 to settle a religious discrimination lawsuit filed by a Muslim teacher.

On September 11, 2008, Safoorah Khan requested three weeks of unpaid leave time to make a hajj, or pilgrimage to Mecca. “It’s required once in our lifetime at the earliest opportunity you can get,” she said. After her request was denied, she resigned and made the pilgrimage.

“I’m glad that we settled and I hope this does set a precedent,” she added. “I hope they realize that hajj means a lot to Muslims and there will be more and more people taking the trip. I hope this helps people and their employers to accommodate Muslims and their requests.”

In addition to paying Khan $75,000, the school district must provide training on religious accommodations to supervisors and board members.


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Show 5 Comments? (Hidden)Hide Comments
  • Posted by: garedawg - Oct. 20, 2011 12:53 PM ET USA

    Doesn't she have summers off as a schoolteacher? Or does one have to go at a specific time during the year?

  • Posted by: mgreen32234 - Oct. 19, 2011 9:38 AM ET USA

    I'd love to get a look at the other religious discrimination suits the Justice Dept. deems worthy? Headscarf rights perhaps? bathroom and eating rights?

  • Posted by: rpp - Oct. 19, 2011 12:46 AM ET USA

    Well, I guess it was not unpaid leave after all. Sounds like manufactured circumstances. This pilgrimage for Muslims is not spur of the moment thing. Why did she wait so long? The "earliest opportunity" part is not strictly part of Muslim teaching.

  • Posted by: Chelle,SFO-MI - Oct. 18, 2011 7:55 PM ET USA

    Hmmm, she requested leave ON Sept. 11th...I wonder if she was trying to say something...I also wonder why she was denied the leave at that particular time...maybe the beginning of the school year??? The articles don't quote what her boss had to say about it. What did she do that summer? Plan for the trip I guess...

  • Posted by: Defender - Oct. 18, 2011 12:19 PM ET USA

    The question becomes: When will the Justice Department protect Catholics from religious discrimination?