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Chipotle is being sued by a federal agency accusing it of religious harassment and retaliation after a manager at a Kansas location of the the restaurant chain forcibly removed an employee’s hijab, a headscarf worn by some Muslim women.

In a lawsuit filed earlier this week the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission alleged how in 2021, an assistant manager at a Chipotle in Lenexa, Kansas, Kevin Silva Garcia, repeatedly harassed the employee, Areej Saifan, by asking her to show him her hair, despite her refusal. 

After several weeks, the harassment culminated in him grabbing and partially removing her hijab, according to the complaint.

The manager’s ‘offensive and incessant requests’ that she remove her hijab, and his attempt to physically take it off, were ‘unwelcome, intentional, severe, based on religion, and created a hostile working environment based on religion,’ the complaint alleges.

Chipotle ultimately fired Garcia while Saifan also filed a report to Lenexa Police.

Areej Saifan, left got the help of the he Council on American-Islamic Relations in Kansas to help report the incident. Moussa Elbayoumy, right, of the CAIR Kansas said he helped the teen submit the complain to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission

The fast food chain’s chief corporate affairs officer, Laurie Schalow, said the company encourages employees to report concerns, including through an anonymous hotline.

‘We have a zero tolerance policy for discrimination of any kind and we have terminated the employee in question,’ she said in a statement.

The harassment began in July 2021, when the manager, Garcia, began asking Saifan, who was 19 at the time, to remove her hijab because he wanted to see her hair.

According to the complaint, Garcia demanded to see her hair at least 10 times over the course of one month. 

She refused on every occasion, saying she wore it because of her religious beliefs.

Saifan refused to remove her hijab on every occasion, saying she wore it because of her religious beliefs

Saifan detailed her experience to the EEOC. She has since resigned from the Chipotle

Saifan then complained to another supervisor that the incidents made her uncomfortable, but no further action was taken against the manager, the complaint said. 

One night during closing in August 2021, Garcia allegedly reached out and pulled her hijab partially off her head.

The following day, Saifan gave her two weeks’ notice. 

Chipotle didn’t schedule her for any shifts during those two weeks even though other non-Muslim employees who submitted their notice continued to be scheduled for work during that time, the complaint alleged.

The lawsuit claims Chipotle violated federal civil rights law protecting employees and job applicants from discrimination based on religion, race, ethnicity, sex and national origin.

Chipotle ultimately fired the manager while Saifan, pictured, filed a report to Lenexa Police

Chipotle fired the assistant manager at their franchise in Lenexa, Kansas, pictured

In its suit, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission said it wants Chipotle to institute policies that provide equal employment opportunities for employees of all religions and pay damages to the employee.

Saifan said she felt the need to report the incident to highlight the manager’s alleged offensive actions and let others know that this was not something they should do. 

‘I don’t want this to happen to me or especially anyone else. Of course, you know, it’s not only about being respectful to Muslim coworkers, to any religion, anybody, everyone has different religious beliefs and choices. And you have to respect that you have to accommodate to that.’

Source: | This article originally belongs to Dailymail.co.uk

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