School dist. sued after denying Muslim teacher leave to perform Hajj

Reply Wed 15 Dec, 2010 09:37 am
The two biggest problems i see are that she is required to make the Hajj at some time in her life--it doesn't have to be performed by any certain age, or at any certain time of life; and, as the precession of the lunar calendar coincides with the solar calendar, there will many times when the Hajj will coincide with the Christmas holidays--she could make her Hajj without unduly interferring with the school years.

After all, i doubt that she is the only Muslim teacher in the United States. I think this is very likely an example of deliberately making a case of something which has not been a problem for anyone in the past.
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Reply Wed 15 Dec, 2010 02:09 pm
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Reply Wed 15 Dec, 2010 10:02 pm
...the story mentions that the district was concerned that such a request wasn't covered under the collective bargaining agreement. That, to me, is an important point. From the scanty details in the story, however, it's difficult to determine whether the teacher's request would need to be accommodated under the law. I am confident, however, that the government, which rarely takes up these kinds of private civil rights cases, will prevail.

I think this is an important point, too.
If accommodating a Muslim teacher's religious beliefs is, in fact, a requirement under the law, then it would surely follow that teachers who practice other religions should be entitled to similar accommodation? Otherwise they could claim that their beliefs were being discriminated against.

Accommodation of all the different religious beliefs which staff members in any one school might hold (by granting leave when requested) could make it awfully difficult to run a cohesive school program. I'd say the requirements of efficiently running a school should take precedence over accommodating the religious beliefs of staff members. But then, I'm a teacher, not a lawyer. This is just my opinion.

I live & work in an area of my city which has a high Muslim population. Many of the schools I've worked in have high ratios of Muslim teachers & students. I've never heard of a case like this one before. It would be considered something of a precedent, I'm sure.

There are also many private Muslim schools in my area. Which makes me wonder, if enough Muslim teachers in those schools were granted leave as a right, as a matter of course, then how would those schools continue to function? Close down during Mecca? My understanding is that Muslims here would not consider their religious practices to over-ride their duties to their (school) employer. Most aspire to visit Mecca once in their life-time, when they have the finances & the time available to do so. There is no imperative to do so at any particular time. But then, I am talking about Melbourne, Australia. Maybe the situation in the USA is different?
Reply Thu 16 Dec, 2010 04:28 am
msolga wrote:
But then, I am talking about Melbourne, Australia. Maybe the situation in the USA is different?

Responding in the context of your remarks, how would it be different? How could it be different? The requirement to complete the Hajj derives from the religion, and has no reference to geography. The time when the Hajj is performed has no reference to geography.

Your point about there being many Muslim school teachers and this issue not having arisen in Australia is telling. This was something to which i was referring earlier. To my knowledge, at least, this has not been made an issue of before in the United States. I think it unreasonable to assume that this woman is the first Muslim to have taught in an American school district. I suspect someone wanted to make an issue of this for the reasons i've already made clear--she has all her life to make the Hajj, and it doesn't take three weeks to make the Hajj. That being the case, i find her insistence suspicious.
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