Religion in Society

School District Won't Let Teacher Go to Mecca; She Sues

| by Mark Berman Opposing Views

A former Illinois teacher claims a school district violated her civil rights by not allowing her to make a a three-week pilgrimage to Mecca. Now she is suing the district.

In 2008, Safoorah Khan asked for three weeks of unpaid leave so should could make the traditional Muslim pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia. The Berkeley School District said no.

After being turned down, Khan wrote to the board that "based on her religious beliefs, she could not justify delaying performing Hajj." She resigned shortly thereafter.

The lawsuit claims that the district compelled Khan to choose between her job and her religious beliefs. It asks that Khan be reinstated with back pay, as well as compensatory damages.

In November 2008, Khan filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which found reasonable cause that discrimination had occurred. It forwarded the matter to the Justice Department, which brought the lawsuit against the district.