(MIAMI, FL, 12/20/16) - The Council on American-Islamic Relations - Florida (CAIR-Florida), the state's largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization, announced a filing in Federal Court against Denny's and their Ocala franchise restaurant. The lawsuit alleges religious discrimination against an African-American Muslim employee who was advised by his manager that his "religious head coverings" are against Denny's Uniform Dress Code policy.
Marlondejuan Guy, the plaintiff, is a former server at an Ocala-based Denny's restaurant. The lawsuit alleges that the plaintiff was prohibited from working the day shift because he wore a Kufi (religious head covering) and that managers repeatedly advised him that he would be able to work the more lucrative day shifts if he took off his Kufi. According to the lawsuit, the plaintiff was the only Muslim employee at this Denny's location and also the only server prohibited from working the day shift.
When the plaintiff refused to take off his Kufi, Denny's manager gave him a letter threatening his termination. The plaintiff immediately filed a discrimination charge with the EEOC and, shortly thereafter, Denny's terminated his employment.
The Florida Commission on Human Relations investigated the discrimination complaint and found reasonable cause of discrimination against Denny's stating, "Complainant demonstrated through witness statements that he was not allowed to work additional night shifts or any day shifts because of his religious hat. The respondent also suspended him because he would not shave his beard for religious reasons." As a result of his termination, the plaintiff experienced so many difficulties that he and his family had to move to a homeless shelter.
You may find a copy of filed Complaint, with exhibits that include Denny's Manager Termination Letter, and FCHR Finding HERE.
"The right to work, to take care of your children, and to feed your family are the most important human rights," said Katherine Heffner, CAIR-Florida Civil Rights Attorney. She continued, "Denny's took that away from him merely because of a piece of clothing on his head. To see his family suffer and to see him suffer all because of his first amendment right to practice his religion, is an American tragedy."
The law firm of Morgan & Morgan, P.A., is representing the plaintiff in this matter. His attorney, Michael Hanna, Esq. said, "Based on these allegations, this is a clear Civil Rights violation. Employers are required to provide reasonable religious accommodations to their employees, and cannot retaliate against their employees for filing discrimination charges with the EEOC."
A video of the plaintiff, Mr. Guy, narrating the incidents leading to the complaint may be seen HERE, in a GoFundMe campaign that has been set up for him.
CAIR-Florida is the state's largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization. Its mission is to enhance the understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties of all people, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.
La misión de CAIR-Florida es mejorar la comprensión del Islam, fomentar el diálogo, proteger las libertades civiles, capacitar a los musulmanes estadounidenses, y construir coaliciones que promuevan la justicia y la comprensión mutua.