A Muslim flight attendant claims she was suspended from her job for refusing to serve alcohol, which is against her religious beliefs.
Charee Stanley, who has been an employee at ExpressJet for three years and converted to Islam a year ago, says she was suspended from the airline in August after another steward complained.
Stanley says she has now filed a discrimination complaint against the carrier, saying they are required to make ‘reasonable accommodation’ of her beliefs.
According to CBS News, Stanley has been a Muslim for two years, but only found out recently that sharia law forbids her from serving alcohol to others, as well as drinking it.
Stanley said she informed her supervisor of the problem in June, and was told to work out an arrangement with a colleague to allow passengers to get their drinks.
Lena Masri, an attorney for the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) in Michigan, said: ‘She began coordinating with the other flight attendant on duty so that when a passenger requested alcohol, the other flight attendant would accommodate that request.
‘We know that this arrangement has worked beautifully and without incident and that it hasn’t caused any undue burden on the airline. After all, it was the suggestion of the airline.’
However, problems began in August after another steward with the airline filed a complaint about Stanley refusing to serve alcoholic drinks.
As well as protesting about Stanley’s behavior, the complaint added that ‘Stanley had a book with foreign writings and wore a headdress,’ CNN reported.
Stanley was sent a letter from the airline on August 25 stating that they were revoking its religious accommodation to exclude her from service of alcohol and placing her on administrative leave.
‘We notified ExpressJet Airlines of its obligation under the law to reasonably accommodate Ms. Stanley’s religious beliefs,’ Masri said at a news conference on Tuesday.
‘Instead, ExpressJet close to violate Ms. Stanely’s constitutional rights, placed her on administrative leave for 12 months, after which her employment may be administratively terminated.’
Masri said that they have requested for her employment to be reinstated by the company and that they also reinstate her religious beliefs accommodations.
‘I don’t think that I should have to choose between practicing my religion properly or earning a living,’ Stanley said at the Tuesday news conference.
‘I shouldn’t have to choose between one or the other because they’re both important.’
The issue has sharply divided opinion online, with many pointing out similarities with Kim Davies, the Christian government worker jailed for refusing to issue marriage licences to gay people.
Twitter user Patrick McCloud asked: ‘So to all of those who supported Kim Davis, do you also support Charee Stanley?’
However, others suggested that if Stanley feels so strongly about her religious beliefs then she should quit her job.
Another Twitter user, identifying herself only as M but who is also a flight attendant, pointed out flaws with Stanley’s arrangement with other stewards.
She wrote: ‘Why be a [Flight Attendant]? That’s our job. Finding another attendant to serve alcohol isn’t that simple. She needs to find a new job, simple as that.
‘Expressjet has 1-2 flight attendants on board. There’s about 70 passengers on board those planes and those flights are pretty quick.
‘So there’s going to be times when her other attendant literally has no time to help because they have to serve first class.
Stanley said she had worked out an arrangement with another stewardess to make sure passengers got their drinks, but was suspended two months later after a steward complained.
‘Maybe she should go mainline because there’s more attendants on board that could help.
Ryan Ward said: ‘If part of your job is to serve peopleyou dislike/serve things you dislike, you should probably look for another job, or drop the religion.
‘It’s not always easy to simply “look for another job.” But, if you’re so strongly against what’s required, you might need to make that call.’
A spokesman for ExpressJet declined to comment about Stanley’s complaint.
‘At ExpressJet, we embrace and respect the values of all of our team members,’ airline spokesman Jarek Beem wrote in an email to CBS.
‘We are an equal opportunity employer with a long history of diversity in our workforce.
‘As Ms. Stanley is an employee, we are not able to comment on her personnel matters.’
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