The anti-Muslim sentiment seen across the nation in opposition to mosque building and even a Florida pastor’s threat to burn the holy book of Islam, the Quran, increasingly is showing up at the workplace.
Claims of discrimination against Muslim workers — which spiked immediately after 9/11 and then dissipated — are showing signs of resurgence.
“There is a hatred, an open hatred, and a lack of tolerance for people who are Muslim,” said Mary Jo O’Neill, regional attorney for the Phoenix district office of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. She said she has seen an uptick in discrimination complaints among Muslim workers in her region, which includes Arizona, Colorado, Wyoming, Utah and New Mexico.
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“I think the mosque in Manhattan seems to be a flashpoint, but it taps into feelings that preceded it,” she said. “The feeling among people in the workplace,” she added, is “not only are we not going to accommodate your practices and beliefs, we’re also going to ridicule you and call you names.”
Claims of bias against Muslims in the workplace rose to 1,490 last year from 1,304 in 2008 and just 697 in 2004, according to EEOC figures. Last year’s total was even higher than in the year after the 9/11 attacks, when bias claims hit 1,463. Figures from this year are not yet available.