This battle has been a team effort and demonstrates the extent to which the struggle for equality requires a multi-disciplinary approach.
Our battle began in March 2011, when a young man named Glenn Mack, Jr. called CAIR-Philadelphia and reported that he had been fired from his job at a Philadelphia-area Whole Foods supermarket when his supervisors learned that he is Muslim.
Immediately, CAIR’s former executive director, Moein Khawaja, accompanied Glenn to the local branch of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) so that Glenn could file an employment discrimination complaint against his former employer.
Our advocacy on Glenn’s behalf increased in Autumn 2011 when CAIR-Philadelphia acquired our first staff attorney. Shortly after arriving at CAIR-Philadelphia, attorney Amara Chaudhry entered her appearance as attorney of record for Glenn in October. In November, Outreach and Communications Director Rugiatu Conteh organized a press conference to inform the public about our case and garner national support. We also drafted a petition on Change.org that has over 45,000 signatures to date. In December, Amara Chaudhry represented Glenn in a hearing before the EEOC. Shortly thereafter, Amara recruited the private law firm of Swartz Swidler, LLC to serve as co-counsel in this matter.
Petition: Don’t Fire Employees for Being Muslim
Our Civil Rights Department focuses our resources upon two distinct classes of cases:
- Those cases which affect the most vulnerable populations within the American Muslim community (such as school children and incarcerated persons)
- Cases which address the biggest threat to American Muslim civil rights (governmental policies, enacted post-9/11, which have the intent, or effect, of discriminating against American Muslims)
Taken together, these case priorities emphasize CAIR-Philadelphia’s commitment to fighting governmental discrimination against American Muslims. We do understand that we will need to occasionally take cases outside these priority areas in order to fully advocate for our community.
The real danger of government discrimination against Muslims is that such policies legitimize anti-Muslim bias and discrimination. If our own government does not perceive us as equals, why should we expect any better from our employers, our neighbors, or our communities?
Why should Whole Foods Market recognize the humanity of Glenn Mack, Jr. – and his right to fair and equal treatment – in a country in which American Muslims are routinely perceived as a “dangerous other”? This is why CAIR-Philadelphia fights for Glenn Mack, Jr. – because we recognize the effect of anti-Muslim bigotry on the lives of ordinary American Muslims. This is also why we are using multiple methods to advocate on Glenn’s behalf. Surely, Glenn needs a lawyer, and we are providing him with that. But Glenn, and American Muslims everywhere, need something more – we need the world to see our humanity and our equality.