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Three women take state's Kids Dept to court, claiming discrimination

Delaware Public Media

Three Muslim women are suing Delaware’s Department of Services of Children, Youth, and their Families for discrimination, including prohibiting them from wearing a hijab at work.


The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) and the Wilmington-based law firm of Jacobs and Crumplar are representing Tia Mays, Madinah Brown, and Shakeya Thomas in the suit.

Last year, Brown filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the Delaware Department of Labor saying she faced discrimination because she wasn’t allowed to practice her Muslim faith by wearing a hijab, or a head covering worn by some Muslim women. Brown had worked at the New Castle County Detention Center since 2012.

Both Mays and Thomas have since come forward with the same complaints.

In Mays’ case, she says she was working at the Ferris School Boys for a couple of weeks when she was presented a packet with the dress code highlighted, specifically no head coverings, no hat, or scarf on the head.

"I let the lady know that this wasn't a head covering, it wasn't a hat or a scarf, it was religious," said Mays."She said she understands that and the supervisor will be out to talk to me. We went into a conference room, he let me know that they spoke with the director. She said it may have been a miscommunication and I couldn't wear it. They asked me was I able to take it off or was I willing to take it off and I told them no."

CAIR Attorney Gadeir Abbas says they were put in an illegal position of choosing religion or work.

"Presented with the option of adhering, maintaining their religious beliefs in the workplace or being fired and unfortunately for all three Muslim women when presented with that choice they were put in the position of having to choose between their jobs and their religious beliefs and that is an illegal choice to put employees in," sais Abbas.

Jen Rini is Community Relations Coordinator for the Dept. of Services for Children, Youth and Their Families, and she provided this statement. 

“The Department of Services for Children, Youth and Their Families cannot comment on pending litigation or personnel matters. As a Department, we are committed to supporting diversity, inclusion and religious freedoms. The Department has always valued the diverse beliefs and experiences of our staff and the clients we serve, and we are dedicated to maintaining an inclusive environment for all.”

The entire complaint can be found here.

Joe brings over 20 years of experience in news and radio to Delaware Public Media and the All Things Considered host position. He joined DPM in November 2019 as a reporter and fill-in ATC host after six years as a reporter and anchor at commercial radio stations in New Castle and Sussex Counties.
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