HANOVER COUNTY, Va. (WRIC) — A Muslim woman filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against a Hanover Health Facility after her employer allegedly fired her for not taking off her hijab.
Keseandra Brooks’ lawyers said that she had been wearing her hijab, a head cover that some Muslim women wear, for three months before being asked to stop wearing it.
Brook’s lawyer said it’s disheartening that she was asked to remove a religious article of clothing, but Hanover Health and Rehabilitation Center disputes her claims.
“People have freedom of religion and they have the freedom to express and practice their religion,” a member of the Islamic Center of Virginia, Ammar Amonette said.
The civil rights lawsuit filed by lawyers with the council on American-Islamic relations, alleges that the Hanover Health and Rehabilitation Center forced Brooks to choose between her faith and her job.
Brooks says that on January 4, 2017, a manager told her to remove her hijab or she would be fired.
The lawsuit states the manager claimed the hijab had posed a safety and security threat because it could be grabbed or pulled.
“It’s really unfortunate that somebody decided to make trouble for this woman who only wanted to do her job,” Amonette told 8News.
In her court filings, Brooks states that she believed the two parties could have found a solution, like pulling her hijab tightly around her head or neck so it couldn’t be grabbed.
Brooks claims she was fired for not complying.
“We don’t all have the same religious beliefs and practices, but we have to treat each other with respect,” Amonette said.
8News reached out to the Hanover Health and Rehabilitation Center for comment, who shared the following statement:
“Hanover Health Rehabilitation Center is committed to respecting the religious and cultural differences among our employees and residents. When Ms. Brooks’ concerns were brought to our attention we quickly contacted her and advised that she was welcome to wear her hijab in the workplace”
Brooks currently works at another health facility in the county that permits her to wear her hijab. Her lawyer told 8News that the case could be resolved in court or possibly go to a jury trial.