CAIR-Philadelphia Announces EEOC Complaint Against Agnes Irwin School Over Unlawful Firing of Palestinian-American Athletic Trainer

(PHILADELPHIA, PA, 3/16/2022) — The Philadelphia Chapter of Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-Philadelphia) today announced it has filed a federal charge of discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) against Agnes Irwin School (AIS), a private all-girls school, on behalf of Natalie Abulhawa, a Palestinian American Muslim athletic trainer, after she was terminated from her employment within mere days of announcing her hire in the school newsletter.

The complaint was filed by CAIR-Philadelphia Civil Rights Attorney Timothy Welbeck and Ryan Allen Hancock, of Willig, Williams, and Davidson.  Mr. Hancock is an attorney with extensive experience with employment and civil rights litigation who was retained by CAIR-Philadelphia to co-represent Ms. Abulhawa.

The complaint alleges AIS wrongfully terminated Ms. Abulhawa by using nearly decade-old social media posts as a pretext for her termination. It should be noted that said social media posts were compiled by a known Islamophobic site.  

Ms. Abulhawa, a Palestinian Muslim young woman, received an offer for employment to join AIS as a full-time Certified Athletic Trainer. Prior to joining AIS, Ms. Abulhawa successfully completed and passed multiple screenings, including a general and criminal background check, education and employment verification, employment recommendations and other screenings. 

It should be noted that Agnes Irwin School did not terminate similarly situated employees, who are not in Ms. Abulhawa’s protected class, for their previous and recent social media posts.

 In a statement, Natalie Abulhawa said:  

“It is unacceptable that Agnes Irwin treated me with such contempt and disrespect. Employment discrimiantion against Palestinian Americans and Muslim Americans is a real problem. Agnes Irwin School did not think twice before bulldozing my life, without even a pretense of due process.  It only took a known hate site to profile me for them to derail my career.  I am telling my story today so that Agnes Irwin School, which purports to empower women, can be held accountable for the ways in which they demeaned, humiliated, and harmed me.”

SIGN: Petition Calling AIS to Apologize to Natalie

SEE: Informational Page at pa.cair.com

CAIR-Philadelphia Staff Attorney Timothy Welbeck and Attorney Ryan Allen Hancock said in a joint statement:  

“We allege ​​The Agnes Irwin School unlawfully terminated Ms. Abulhawa’s employment because of her national origin, ethnicity, nationality and/or religion in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act. We would like to emphasize that AIS did not terminate similarly situated employees, not in Ms. Abulhawa’s protected class, for their recent social media posts. Working with young athletes was our client’s passion, but despite a shortage of athletic trainers, she cannot get a job in her chosen field and is now forced to train for a new career, incurring new student debt and uncertainty.

“We call on AIS to do the right thing by first acknowledging and remedying the injustice Natalie Abulhawa faced and then instituting training mechanisms to address anti-Palestinian discrimination at AIS.” 


CAIR is America’s largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization. Its mission is to enhance understanding of Islam, protect civil rights, promote justice, and empower American Muslims.

La misión de CAIR es proteger las libertades civiles, mejorar la comprensión del Islam, promover la justicia, y empoderar a los musulmanes en los Estados Unidos.

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CONTACT: CAIR-Philadelphia Civil Rights Attorney Timothy Welbeck, twelbeck@cair.com, 404-642-0014; Ryan Allen Hancock, rhancock@wwdlaw.com; CAIR-Philadelphia Education and Outreach Director Ahmet Selim Tekelioglu, PhD, 617-401-5397 (mobile), atekelioglu@cair.com.