Muslim FA Sues Airline After Suspension for Not Serving Alcohol

Challenges related to religion and airline travel have made the news recently. A pair of Muslim women were booted off an American Airlines flight last week, creating a stir as a result of their claims regarding why they were asked to leave.

Image credit: FOX 2 Detroit

Image credit: FOX 2 Detroit

FOX 2 News in Detroit, Michigan reported on the case of a woman named Charee Stanley. Stanley was a flight attendant with ExpressJet Airlines and allegedly refused to serve travelers alcohol because of her religious beliefs. She had reportedly taken a closer look at her Muslim faith and realized that she not only could not drink alcohol, but also could not serve it to other people. Stanley approached her employer and made a special arrangement which enabled another flight attendant to serve alcohol in her place while Stanley was serving other customers on flights.

However, this arrangement unraveled after a few months.  According to Dawud Walid of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, another flight attendant made “a complaint made about her not serving alcohol … as well as her being on a plane reading a book in a foreign language.” On August 5, Stanley filed a lawsuit seeking lost wages and other damages.

Was Stanley’s religious freedom violated, or does Express Jet have a right to demand she perform her duties?

 

Comments

  1. I must confess to agreeing with the airline in its suspension of its Muslim employee. The Muslim employee took the job not realizing the tenets of her religion, and then after the fact decided to implement the tenets of her religion rather than leave the job that has a requirement that violates one of those tenets.

    The Muslim FA has every right to observe her religion, but she cannot infringe on the rights of others to do so. SHE took the FA job, knowing the requirements of the job included serving alcohol. She then discovered her religion precludes her from serving alcohol. It is HER responsibility to either violate her religion then or to leave that job that requires her to do so.

    In this case, the court may find the airline liable since it had made arrangements to assist the Muslim FA with regard to the serving alcohol. But that will simply cause every business in the future to NOT accommodate current employees or to avoid hiring employees who cannot do the job.

    On the other hand, airlines booting passengers because they are Muslim is not acceptable, as mentioned in the beginning of this story.

  2. ExpressJet should be liable to continue the special arrangements it had agreed to make for this Muslim employee. If the airline wanted to insist that she serve alcohol, it should have made that clear in the first place rather than make special arrangements. Now it must to stick to its own words.

  3. I think there’s more to the story than was reported. We’ve only heard from the Council of American-Islamic Relations who would support and represent the ex-employee. The complaint about “reading books in a foreign language” sounds unbelievable and added only to support their case. I think the employee’s on the job behavior contributed to her dismissal but a company wouldn’t comment on an on-going case.

  4. @mcdullhk88 – That is ridiculous. Why should the employer be forced to continue such an accomodationt? Since when is there a law that states that special arrangements need to be made for Muslim FAs? She decided that she could no longer serve alcohol after working for the airline for how long? The airline has no obligation to her. Period. If she cannot fulfill the requirements of the her job, she should quit and find work elsewhere that corresponds more with her religious beliefs. She is lucky that they haven’t fired her. The tail needs to stop wagging the dog in this country. There are plenty of foreign airlines that are dry, where she could potentially work.

  5. lame FA!

    muslim works in a bar and refuses to serve alcohol?

    buddist works in a french restaurant and refuses to serve beef dishes?

    hindhu works in a bbq joint and refuses to serve beef?

    and yet at the same time, they argue racism if these establishments refuse to employ them in the first place!

    come on people!

  6. They should make any reasonable accomodation even if they aren’t require to. But the notion of having to make two passes down the aisle of a plane with two different FA’s is an absurd accommodation that affects passenger service and other employees. This is different than accommodating her need to wear a hijab as part pf her uniform, for instance. Your religious beliefs, or ethical beliefs for that matter, may require you not to do certain jobs.

    Anyone else wonder if she took the job to make a point?

    It is unfortunate that there is a suit over asking someone to do their job when there is so much real anti-Muslim discrimination.

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