HIJAB IN THE WORKPLACE
Q. What are the requirements for Muslim women's dress?
In one tradition, the Prophet Muhammad is quoted as saying: "...If the woman reaches the age of puberty, no part of her body should be seen but this --- and he pointed to his face and hands."
and other references, the vast majority of Muslim scholars and jurists, past and
present, have determined the minimum requirements for Muslim women's dress: 1)
Clothing must cover the entire body, with the exception of the face and the
hands. 2) The attire should not be form fitting, sheer or so eye-catching as to
attract undue attention or
similar, yet less obvious requirements for a Muslim male's attire. 1) A Muslim
man must always be covered from the navel to the knees. 2) A Muslim man should
similarly not wear tight, sheer, revealing, or eye-catching clothing. In
addition, a Muslim man is prohibited from wearing silk clothing (except for
medical reasons) or
(References: "The Muslim Woman's Dress," Dr. Jamal Badawi, Ta-Ha Publishers; "Hijab in Islam," Maulana Wahiduddin Khan, Al-Risala Books; "The Islamic Ruling Regarding Women's Dress," Abu Bilal Mustafa Al-Kanadi, Abul-Qasim Publishing; "Islamic Dress," Muslim Women of Minnesota; "Your Hijab and U.S. Law," North American Council for Muslim Women)
Q. Is Islamic dress appropriate for modern times?
dress is modern and practical. Muslim women wearing Islamic dress work and study
without any problems or constraints.
Q. Does Islamic dress imply that women are submissive or inferior to men? A: Islamic dress is one of many rights granted to Islamic women. Modest clothing is worn in obedience to God and has nothing to do with submissiveness to men. Muslim men and women have similar rights and obligations and both submit to God.
Q. But aren't there Muslim women who do not wear Islamic Dress, or hijab?
A: Some Muslim women choose not to wear hijab. Some may want to wear it but believe they cannot get a job wearing a head scarf. Others may not be aware of the requirement or are under the mistaken impression that wearing hijab is an indication of inferior status.
Q. Why is Islamic dress becoming an issue for personnel managers and supervisors?
A: The Muslim community in American is growing rapidly. Growth factors include conversions to Islam, immigration from Muslim countries and high birth rates for Muslim families. As the community grows, more Muslim women will enter the work force. In many cases, these women wish both to work and to maintain their religious convictions. It should be possible to fulfill both goals.
Q. What issues do Muslim women face in the workplace?
women report that the issue of attire comes up most often in the initial
interview for a job. Some interviewers will ask if the prospective employee
plans to wear the scarf to work. Others may inappropriately inquire about
religious practices or beliefs. Sometimes the prospective employee, feeling
pressure to earn a living, will take
issues include unwanted touching or pulling on scarves by other employees,
verbal harassment or subtle ostracism and denial of promotion. Many Muslims also
object to being pressured to attend celebrations of other religious traditions
or to attend
Q. What can an employer reasonably require of a woman wearing hijab?
employer can ask that an employee's attire not pose a danger to that employee or
to others. For example, a Muslim woman who wears her head scarf so that loose
ends are exposed should not be operating a drill press or similar machinery.
That employee could be asked to arrange her hijab so that the loose ends are
tucked in. An employer can
A: Many cases have demonstrated an employee's legal right to reasonable ccommodation in matters of faith. Examples: 1) The failure of other Muslim employees to wear headscarves is legally irrelevant. The employee need only show sincerely-held religious beliefs. (E.E.O.C. v. Reads, Inc., 1991) 2) There are no health or safety concerns at issue. (Cf. E.E.O.C. Dec. No. 82-1, 1982, also E.E.O.C. Dec. No. 81-20, 1981) 3) Companies cannot give effect to private biases. In other words, just because an employer believes customers will be prejudiced against a woman in a scarf, that does not mean the mployee can be fired. (Palmer v. Sidoti, 1984, also Cf. Sprogis v. United Air Lines, Inc., 1971) 4) An employer must demonstrate "undue hardship" caused by the wearing of religious attire. (TWA v. Hardison, 1977) Hardships recognized by the courts include cost to the employer or effect on co-workers. 5) Dress codes can have disproportionate impact on certain faiths. (E.E.O.C. Dec. No. 71-2620, 1971, also E.E.O.C. Dec. No. 71-779, 1970)
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