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Criminal Justice & Legal System

Muslim woman sues former workplace for discrimination

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A Muslim woman from Dearborn has filed a lawsuit against her former employer for religious discrimination.

The complaint says Terry Ali, who wears a hijab, was hired as a medical receptionist at Livonia Dermatology. Ali began the new job one day before the mass shooting in San Bernadino earlier this month.

The day after the shooting, Ali's supervisor pulled her aside and asked "if she was satisfied with the job." The supervisor also asked if Ali could contact her previous employer and ask for her old job back.

Ali was then given a filing assignment in a back room, away from the front of the office, where the lawsuit says she was originally assigned to work.

The following weekend, office manager Jennifer Couturier told Ali via email that the office was downsizing, and she had to let Ali go.

Ali's lawyer, Shereef Akeel, says Courtier's reasoning is inconsistent with an email she sent Ali a month earlier.

That email, dated November 5th, states, "The front area is hemorrhaging at this point and I need to bring in some positive, energetic people who actually care about patients. As we talked about, I am planning to expand the roles of those up front and there are lots of opportunities, be it the lab, the front, billing, and all others."

Akeel called the lawsuit a "classic case" of workplace discrimination.

"There was a motive here to get rid of our client, because she subscribes to the religion of Islam and wears the hijab," Akeel said.

Courturier told the Detroit Free Press that Ali's dismissal was due to "technical competency" and had nothing to do with her religious beliefs

The lawsuit was filed in Wayne County Circuit Court.

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