Woman Says Company Fired her for Religious Beliefs

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — A woman is suing her former boss, a big corporation saying she worked in a hostile work environment and was ultimately fired because of her religion. She’s Muslim and says some of her co-workers and managers at Southwestern Bell had a problem with that.

After four hours of deliberations, the jury has not yet made a decision. The case is all about whether Susann Bashir was harassed at work because she’s Muslim. On Tuesday morning, the plaintiff’s attorney Amy Coopman accused Southwestern Bell (AT&T) of not maintaining a work environment free of harassment and firing Bashir in retaliation for her complaints.

Southwestern Bell and parent company AT&T attorney Brian Woolley argued the accusations are not based on fact. Bashir made only one internal complaint to the employee hotline and that was dealt with.

FOX 4 interviewed Bashir in a 2007 story about being Muslim in the Midwest. At the time, she said she was used to people staring at her and was aware some Muslims were being harassed and discriminated against.

In the lawsuit, Bashir claims she endured harassing comments from co-workers and supervisors like people leaving Bible verses on her desk, asking if she’d blow up the building, telling her she could hear better without her head scarf and more. In 2009, she claimed a boss grabbed her scarf and almost took it off. She left work on disability at that time, but she wouldn’t return unless the boss was gone or if she could be transferred.

After nine months, Southwestern Bell fired her for failure to return to work. Bashir’s lawyer says she complained to managers and filed an EEOC complaint. She blames the company for not following up on the complaints. AT&’T’s lawyer says there’s no evidence to back up the claims. They cited medical records that Bashir suffers from paranoia and feelings of persecution.

In a statement,  AT&T tells me it makes diversity and inclusion a top priority. AT&T believes the lawsuit lacks merit.



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