Last updated: 08:53 PM ET, Sat September 05 2015

Muslim Flight Attendant Says Suspension Stems from Her Refusal to Serve Alcohol

Impacting Travel | Michael Isenbek | September 05, 2015

Muslim Flight Attendant Says Suspension Stems from Her Refusal to Serve Alcohol

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Charee Stanley, 47, is a flight attendant by trade as well as a practicing Muslim. Dictated by her faith, she cannot imbibe or serve alcohol — the latter, of course, a common task for flight attendants. According to a CNN report, Stanley claims her employer ExpressJet has suspended her due to this religious requirement, and she’s fighting to get her job back.

An ExpressJet employee for almost three years, Stanley converted to Islam about two years ago, Lena Masri, an attorney with Michigan’s chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, and Stanley’s lawyer, said to CNN. Masri relates that the flight attendant learned just this year that her religion prevents her from serving alcohol, alerting her supervisor to this fact on June 1.

"It was at the direction of the airlines that she began coordinating with the other flight attendant on duty so that when a passenger requested alcohol, the other flight attendant would accommodate that request," Masri said to CNN. "We know that this arrangement has worked beautifully and without incident and that it hasn't caused any undue burden on the airline. After all, it was the suggestion of the airline."

But then, as Masri told CNN, another flight attendant filed a complaint against Stanley on Aug. 2 related to her refusal to serve alcohol. Masri added that the grievance also said Stanley had a book with "foreign writings" and wore a headdress.

Stanley was sent a letter on Aug. 25 announcing the revocation of her religious accommodation related to the serving of alcohol and informed her that she was officially on administrative leave.

As part of the effort to get her job back, Stanley has filed a discrimination complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, CNN said.

"They have paid her unpaid leave and they advised her that her employment may be terminated after 12 months," Masri said to CNN. "We are requesting that her employment be reinstated and the accommodation of her religious beliefs be reinstated as well."

"What this case comes down to is no one should have to choose between their career and religion and it's incumbent upon employers to provide a safe environment where employees can feel they can practice their religion freely," Masri asserted to CNN.

ExpressJet would not talk about Stanley's complaint with CNN, but spokesperson Jarek Beem said in an email, "At ExpressJet, we embrace and respect the values of all of our team members. We are an equal opportunity employer with a long history of diversity in our workforce. As Ms. Stanley is an employee, we are not able to comment on her personnel matters." 


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