Isse v. American Univ. (D.D.C. 2008): Reasonable Accommodation for Prayer Case

A Somali Muslim bus driver for American University sued his former employer and supervisor under Title VII, alleging discrimination based on religion and national origin as well as retaliation for asking for reasonable religious accommodation. Specifically, the plaintiff claimed that he was frequently denied the chance to attend Muslim Friday prayer services and that his supervisors made several derogatory comments regarding Muslims. He further argued that he was ultimately terminated because of his religion and in retaliation for filing a complaint regarding a lack of reasonable religious accommodation (in the form of a schedule that accommodated his weekly prayer services). The Court found that the plaintiff had established a prima facie case and that there was enough evidence for a jury to conclude that the University’s reason for firing the plaintiff was a pretext for actual discrimination. However, the Court dismissed the retaliation claim, as the plaintiff did not present any evidence to support it.

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