Muslim employees claim the restaurant owner discriminated against them.
Michigan-based restaurant chain Anna’s House and two former employees who filed a workplace discrimination lawsuit reached a settlement. The lawsuit was filed by staff at the Westland restaurant in January 2020. They claimed they were fired for no reason.
One manager claimed she was asked to tell a frontline worker to remove her hijab and she refused as it was part of the woman’s religious expression. According to the lawsuit, Anna’s homeowner also allegedly asked if the chef prayed at work, and the manager’s attorney believes his client has been targeted as a Muslim.
“Both of our clients have been treated horribly and unworthily by the owner of Anna’s house – they have been embarrassed, they have been humiliated, they have suffered discrimination, and I am honored to represent them because they have the courage and bravery to fight back, ”said Michael Pitt, plaintiff’s attorney, upon filing.
Photo by Jay Wennington on Unsplash
The lawsuit further alleges: “Anna’s homeowner and operator Josh Beckett sacked former employees Alicia Dunlap and Aliou Diao without explanation after trying to enforce policies in a discriminatory manner and even asking a Muslim woman to wear her headscarf or hijab remove during working hours. “He was actually referring to the woman’s” jihab “which the plaintiff believes was done on purpose.
“Everyone knows that jihad is not the correct term for the Muslim headscarf, but hijab,” said Amy Doukoure, attorney who represents Diao at CAIR-Michigan. “Jihad is often a word used against Muslims in order to create an environment and atmosphere and to create a feeling that Muslims are inherently shameful to the fabric of America. We don’t think his choice of words was an accident. “
Both employees worked at the Westland location. They were released on June 17, 2019 despite receiving positive performance feedback. Dunlap, a Spanish and Christian woman, worked for the restaurant for two years. Diao, a Senegalese Muslim, worked as a kitchen manager since December 2017.
The restaurant initially replied, “Anna’s House is aware of the lawsuit filed today. We took advice and will defend ourselves against these claims in court. Anna’s house is and will remain a place where people of all backgrounds and beliefs are employed and served. “After the deal, Doukoure said,” The only statement I can make is that these are terms that are acceptable to all parties. “
Anna’s House attorneys filed a response to the initial filing in January 2020 last month, denying the allegations of discrimination in the workplace and the version of the workers’ events. According to the restaurant chain, “The plaintiffs were not exposed to unfavorable unequal treatment or an unfavorable employment measure by the defendants because of a protected category or activity, nor did the defendants act in ruthless disregard of property rights … The defendants have in no way defended themselves against the plaintiff any reason. “
Dawud Walid, executive director of the American-Islamic Relations Council in Michigan, said, “Southeast Michigan is not a homogeneous region. This is one of the most ethnically and religiously diverse regions in the entire state of Michigan, ”said Walid. “When we have situations like this where we have people of color who are obviously discriminated against and have double standards, it can’t be acceptable at all, especially here in southeast Michigan.”
Anna’s house and two former workers settled a workplace discrimination lawsuit
Michigan restaurant chain Anna’s House has been accused of firing employees on grounds of race and religion