Mirza v. Neiman Marcus (N.D. Ill. 2009): Religious Discrimination in the Workplace

The plaintiff sued her former employer, Neiman Marcus, under Title VII, alleging discrimination based on religion, race, color, and national origin; failure to accommodate her religion; failure to stop harassment; and retaliation for her filing of a religious and national origin discrimination claim with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), which allowed her suit to proceed in court. The defendant company argued that, because of the statue of limitations, the plaintiff failed to make a claim. Many of the plaintiff’s claims, including allegations of her co-worker directing racial epithets at her, and being compelled to work on religious holidays, were time-barred and thus could not be introduced to the court. The court found that the plaintiff failed to make a prima facie case of discrimination as required by McDonnell Douglas, concluding that she did not prove that she was treated differently because of her religion, race, or national origin. Accordingly, the Court granted summary judgment in favor of the defendant company on these claims; however, the Court denied the company’s motion for summary judgment on the hostile work environment claim, concluding that a jury could consider allegations that the company permitted so-called sale-stealing, when an employee rings up the sale of a client that a co-worker was working with thereby receiving their commission, to be an adverse employment action in the claim that was not time-barred, and thus the suit on this issue could move forward.

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