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Muslim Workers Experience Rising Discrimination

Over the last half decade, Muslims in America have been experiencing increased harassment and discrimination at work. Reports of name-calling such as “terrorist” and “Osama” are on the rise as well as reports of religious exclusion like barring prayer breaks and restraining head scarves. As a result, workplace discrimination complaints submitted by Muslim Americans to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission have been on the rise.

Muslim workers filed a record amount of complaints with the EEOC in 2009 at 803. That amount was up almost 60 percent from 2005 and up 20 percent from 2008. The amount of complaints filed so far in 2010 suggests that this year will set the record again. Though the amount of complaints has been rising, the recent tensions over a planned Islamic center in Manhattan has brought the issue out of the corner.

Polls over the last few months have indicated a rising unease toward Muslims. One Pakistani immigrant does not understand the uneasiness and animosity. He drove trucks that supported the United States in Iraq for three years. Afterwards, when he worked for a construction company in Houston his supervisor and co-workers called him names like “Taliban,” “terrorist,” “Osama,” and “al Qaeda.”

The Pakistani man approached management about the ethnic epithets but was fired for doing so. Reflecting on the experience he said, “It brought a bit of terror in my chest. I’d wonder, ‘Why are they doing this? I’ve always been nice to them.'”

Last year, Muslims made up 25 percent of the religious discrimination claims filed with the EEOC. Muslims make up nearly two percent of the United States population. A regional attorney with the EEOC commented there is a shocking amount of hatred towards Muslims, and she has never seen the amount of animosity toward Muslim workers in her 31 years as an attorney with the organization.

Source: The New York Times, “Muslims Report Rising Discrimination at Work” Steven Greenhouse, 9/23/10


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