A Muslim flight attendant says that she was suspended from her job for serving alcohol, which her religion prohibits.
Charee Stanley started work with American airline ExpressJet three years ago, before she converted to Islam last year. She says that initially, she did not realise that Islam forbids Muslims from serving alcohol as well as drinking it themselves.
When she found this out, she formed an arrangement with other airline staff, whereby they would serve alcohol for her when required. Her supervisor was aware of this arrangement, having suggested it as a solution to the issues raised by her conversion. However, one of her colleagues later complained, with the result that she was suspended by ExpressJet.
Stanley’s solicitor, Lena Masri, commented, “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. 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.”
The complaint from the steward is said to have included the statement that “Stanley had a book with foreign writings and wore a headdress.” Stanley has filed a discrimination complaint, claiming that the airline should have made “reasonable accommodation” for her beliefs. The case has proved controversial in America, and drawn comparisons with that of Christian government employee Kim Davies, who was jailed earlier this year after she refused to issue marriage licences to gay couples.
“I don’t think that I should have to choose between practising my religion properly or earning a living,” Stanley said at a press conference. “I shouldn’t have to choose between one or the other because they’re both important.” ExpressJet has declined to comment on the case.
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