Muslim Flight Attendant Suspended For Refusing To Serve Alcohol

Here’s an interesting story coming out of the US. An ExpressJet flight attendant has been placed on leave for 12 months, supposedly after refusing to serve alcohol on flights. She converted to Islam a month after starting to fly for ExpressJet, and apparently had an arrangement with her colleagues whereby they would serve the alcohol on flights she was on. But that seemed to end after another flight attendant filed “an Islamophobic complaint” against her.

Via CBS Detroit:

A Muslim flight attendant has filed a complaint with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEO) claiming she was suspended from her job for not serving alcohol — which is against her religious beliefs.

However, Masri said, ExpressJet Airlines put Stanley on administrative leave after another attendant filed “an Islamophobic complaint” that referenced Stanley’s head scarf.

“We notified ExpressJet Airlines of its obligation under the law to reasonably accommodate Ms. Stanley’s religious beliefs,” Masri said at a news conference in Farmington Hills on Tuesday.  “Instead, ExpressJet close to violate Ms. Stanely’s constitutional rights, placed her on administrative leave for 12 months after which her employment may be administratively terminated.”

Masri said the arrangement Stanley had with other attendants to serve the alcohol for her had been working out just fine since Stanley converted to Islam about a month after becoming a flight attendant for ExpressJet.

A company does have the obligation to provide “reasonable accommodation” to prevent religious discrimination, which the EEOC defines as follows:

Religious Discrimination & Reasonable Accommodation

The law requires an employer or other covered entity to reasonably accommodate an employee’s religious beliefs or practices, unless doing so would cause more than a minimal burden on the operations of the employer’s business. This means an employer may be required to make reasonable adjustments to the work environment that will allow an employee to practice his or her religion.

Examples of some common religious accommodations include flexible scheduling, voluntary shift substitutions or swaps, job reassignments, and modifications to workplace policies or practices.

Whether or not serving alcohol as a flight attendant would fall under that umbrella is what remains to be seen, I suppose. In the above situation it seems like she should be offered another role that she’s able to perform all the functions of, perhaps on the ground.

But on a regional jet where you only have at most one other flight attendant, not being able to perform a beverage service on your own does seem to be more than a “minimal burden” on the company.

Delta-Connection

What do you make of this case — what accommodations, if any, should be made for a flight attendant who doesn’t want to serve alcohol on religious grounds?

Comments

  1. IMO, this is no different than the Muslim cabbies at MSP who wouldn’t drive pax who were carrying alcohol. I hope the airline wins. She doesn’t have to drink it, just serve it. She knew what the job entailed when she converted. No sympathy here.

  2. The FA knew before her job started and even after her religious conversion that selling/serving alcohol to passengers was part of the ordinary job duties for her position and that she can’t pick her passengers based on who drinks and doesn’t drink alcoholic beverages. She picked her religion, and that comes with picking her sacrifices too. While the airline may be able and should be willing to accommodate her in a different role on the ground or in the air, that shouldn’t involve making customers pay the price for FA religious beliefs.

    This situation is not at all wholly comparable to the blown out of proportion MSP cabbies story.

  3. First to be excused from serving alcohol. What’s next? Exempted from serving pork? To be excused during the Ramadan (fasting) month? Endless. You guys take a guess.

  4. This is similar to the Kentucky town clerk refusing to issue marriage licenses. It is the job. if you dont like it, move on.

  5. @ Cee

    Exactly. There is a limit to what your religion can exempt you from. I bet, however, that supporters of the KY county clerk and other Christians who want to claim a “religious freedom” exemption from laws requiring that they serve gay people probably won’t be as supportive of this woman…

  6. She converted after gaining employment meaning she signed a contract which she then broke. She made a choice that carried certain responsibilities, one of them being that she was no longer able to do the job she signed a contract for. If anything, the airline should sue her and chargeback her training.

  7. Here is my opinion as someone who when converted changed their believes alongside their job!

    As a Muslim she cannot serve alcohol to others or drink alcohol or anything that we know can harm the health of others.

    Having said that as a convert she does have some leniency until she finds another job. Many new Muslims take a burden on their own to change and practise some of the “minor” aspects of the religion before the “big” ones such as pray and know what it means. What is not known is for how long she was a Muslim before the incident. Islam is not black and white and for example if she was a single woman and needed the job to support herself is totally different in the scale than someone who has a family who can help.

    I don’t believe that as a Muslim she should put a burden on the company and her colleagues to serve it on her behalf.

    Ground work does seem a better option and I do hope the company can accommodate her, if not then I am sure there are many other jobs out there she can be that are OK for her. I also don’t understand that “an Islamophobic complaint” but let’s not go there.

    Personal believes are choices and I think this was blown out of proportion just because she was Muslim. Some of the comments have some common sense more than anything.

  8. A flight attendant refusing to serve alcohol is like a chef refusing to touch food. There are a million other jobs she could have chosen that dont involve serving alcohol but she chose one that did. No sympathy.

  9. She certainly can’t be fired for her religious beliefs, so I think the company should accommodate her in a ground position – something like baggage handler or SST operator at DTW should workout fine. Easy! No serving alcohol or pork required!

  10. Brian G, where did you come up with that liquor store example? The FA doesn’t work for a liquor store.

    And if she did (work for liquor store), then she ought to find another job either within the company or beyond it — just as I indicated earlier.

  11. If she was working in ME3 airlines she was probably being fired immediately.
    Well, ME3 are Muslim country based.

  12. Given that this is a regional airline where there is often only one flight attendant per flight and thus no one else that could take over alcohol service, I do see an excessive burden on the airline.

    However, my issue is with putting her on leave for wearing head scarf. Refusing to serve alcohol prevents her from doing her job, wearing head scarf does not. “ExpressJet Airlines put Stanley on administrative leave after another attendant filed “an Islamophobic complaint” that referenced Stanley’s head scarf.”

  13. Airline is going to lose, being able to slideline someone then fire them for not doing something their religion forbids is an extremely high bar to meet. The airline MUST offer alternatives, ie. ensure someone else hands out the booze on the plane or transfer her to the ground.

    I think expressjet’s defense of not being able to run an airplane with 1 FA doing booze or that her agreement with her fellow FAs was unoffical is going to be enough to get out of wrongly suspending her.

    Dont let your religious biases get in the way that the law must be followed. I am a follower of Jibbers Crabst and even I think the airline is in the wrong here. Praise Jibbers.

  14. Well done to the attendant for sticking to her beliefs! (and I hope she reads this)
    With America advocating freedom of everything, I cannot understand why an airline would force her to do something she strongly believes against. After all, serving alcohol is not inherent to the job role itself – which, as an attendant, is safety!
    Pure and simple.
    This is a sad precedence when we can no longer accept diversity.
    I wish her the best of luck and may the airline come to their senses.
    In the meantime, I shall do my utmost not to give ExpressJet my business to show them just how hurtful it is to penalize someone.

  15. I have no issue with wearing a headscarf. I do have an issue with refusing to serve alcohol. What if the flight attendant was an Orthodox Jewish woman who was prohibited from interacting with men. Or a Hindu woman who refused to serve beef. And it’s really no different than the clerk in KY who won’t grant marriage licenses.

    Practice your religion, but it shouldn’t interfere with your company’s normal business practices.

  16. For those of you that support her claim: She works for an airline that has only one Flight attendant (CRJ200) or two flight attendants (CRJ700/900). Do you only allow her to fly the aircraft with the two flight attendants? What if you are going to a place like Key West where everyone wants alcohol in First and Coach? I could see this increasing the workload of the other F/A dramatically when you just don’t have the time or personnel on a short regional flight. On the one flight attendant aircraft do you really deny alcolohol on every flight she works?
    Im fine with offering her a job on the ground. Keep in mind that ExpressJet has very limited positions outside of the GO. If there was a position at the GO that was open and she was qualified for, I’d absolutely give it to her.

  17. Fire her right now. She just wants to make some money by going to the court. A few months prior her new religion she was fine even with drinking alcohol but interestingly a month after her new job she refused to serve to the passengers.

    You know what? If I would be the airline’s lawyer I would sue her because she was discriminative when she refused to serve alcohol to a Christian passenger while the Bible clearly states that even Jesus drunk wine.

    She made my day for sure. Idiots 😀
    I hope the airline wins and this idiot will never get another contract with any other airline in the future not even at the airport.

  18. She knew what she was signing up for, if she wants a job where she doesn’t have to serve alcohol she should work else where

  19. Unfortunately, for her, the responsibilities of her job include serving alcohol. As a Muslim, she will have to make arrangements to find alternate means of employment that don’t put her in situations where she has to be serving something that is haram for her. I have seen many Muslims in this same situation…myself included, which is why I never took jobs at restaurants as waiters…I simply started a blog and got affiliate links 🙂 For the headscarf, she should we allowed to wear it, as it doesn’t get in the way of doing her job.

  20. Religion is pure evilness. If you choose to limit your own life by living by the rule of evilness you have no right to impose those limits on others.
    Get the job done or leave!

  21. “Masri said the arrangement Stanley had with other attendants to serve the alcohol for her had been working out just fine”

    That’s not an arrangement that allows her to perform her work despite her beliefs — that’s off-loading her work onto other employees. Some of whom might not like the extra work but may be trying to avoid confrontation over the issue.

  22. @Elena-MuslimTravelGirl

    “As a Muslim she cannot serve alcohol to others or drink alcohol or anything that we know can harm the health of others.”

    Moderate alcohol consumption is beneficial for your health. People that consume alcohol moderately on a regular basis tend to be healthier and on average live longer than teetotalers.

  23. Interesting article. I haven’t looked at the law, but I suspect the standard on the company is whether or not they can make a reasonable accommodation to meet the employee’s beliefs. I think the point that this is a smaller plane with less flight attendants is valid. I do find it annoying that she took this job knowing the duties and merely a month later converted. This is part of the duties the job itself entails. Its not like all of a sudden she found out she had to do this. My belief is that they can move her to a ground position if she can not be accommodated as a flight attendant (like if other flight attendants now have to do more work than she does because of this- of course if they can redistributed the workload so it equals at that is fine). I do not feel like the company should have to go out of their way to accommodate her. Hence they need to make efforts at reasonable accommodation. If they can’t redistribute the workload fairly or if there is no openings on the ground then she should find another job that suits her needs.

  24. Her refusing to serve alcohol offends my non-religious beliefs. I should sue her. But seriously, muslims causing problems again, sticking their lame religion in our faces. What else is new?

  25. In visiting Morrocco, a Muslim country I was surprised how good their wine was, in particular their Gris. I did ask how is it possible to make wine here?

    My guide told me it is not against their religion to plant, till, grow, pick or crush grapes. It’s also not against their religion to rack, bottle, store or ship. What is against their religion is the act of adding yeast which allows all of the workers except one to be Muslim.

    You are free to practice your religion unless it conflicts with the demands of a (societally determined) legal job. If you cannot perform ALL the duties that you may be required to do you should not be applying for the job.

    No one seems to have a problem on the ME3 airlines…

  26. @Lucky,
    Being an airport-senior, I do remember having an instance at CPH – Copenhagen airport, where we had a lot of immigrants picking up service jobs at the airport.
    As for the Frank´s Hot Dog concept, we had a muslim passing all interviews, and all products except condiments contained pork or alcohol, however the worker was protected by Danish Working Act…

  27. I can guarantee you the liberals are gonna keep quite about this and will even say it is her religious belief.

    If it is a Christian doing this, than you are a racist, bigot aand everything bad!
    Muslim bakery doesn’t have to honor gay wedding cakes, but if you are a Christian or non muslim, than you are everything bad in the world! It’s like attacks against innocent gays happening in Iran and Iraq, gays thrown off clips, stoned to death, hanged, beaten yet those two countries are never condemned for these acts and we the non gays here in the west are racist and bigot!

  28. @ Tom

    As a liberal I think this religious exemption nonsense needs to stop regardless of the religion. The 1st Amendment only protects your ability to worship and protects you from discrimination based on your religious status. It does not grant you the right to impose your religious beliefs on others or flout laws of general applicability because you disagree. It does not mean that the world has to accommodate your strict moral code.

    In the case of the KY county clerk, if anything, by refusing to follow the law and imposing “God’s law” she is the only one violating the Establishment Clause of the 1st amendment by essentially establishing her religious beliefs in her government office.

    I doubt this story will get as much coverage because ExpressJet is going to want to draw as little attention as possible to it (unlike the KY clerk and her media hungry lawyers who have appealed all the way up to the Supreme Court and now face contempt charges for refusing to follow a court order) and the Christian right that has been trying to expand the scope of “religious freedom” certainly isn’t going to want to discuss this case since they really only want to expand the scope of Christian religious freedom. It doesn’t matter if you are Muslim, Christian, Jewish, Rastafarian, etc. If you believe that your religion prohibits you from serving alcohol, don’t take a job as a flight attendant, just as if you believe your religion prohibits you from participating in same sex marriages, don’t take a job that requires you to perform marriages or marriage related services.

  29. My 17 year old daughter is a waitress in a small restaurant that sells liquor. She is not allowed to serve alcohol. On busy shifts when there are more than one server on duty, the other waitress serves any alcoholic drinks that are ordered. When no server on duty is of legal age, the cook serves the drinks. This is no different. The pilots should come out and serve any drinks that are ordered.

  30. iF YOU BUY A HOUSE BESIDES THE AIRPORT , LIVE THERE FOR 6 MONTH AND THAN SUE THE AIRPORT FOR ALL THE NOISE OF THE AIRPLANES WOULD THAT STAND UP IN COURT ?????

    IN CASE YOU ARE A JEHOVA;S WITNESS AND APPLY FOR A FA JOB DO YOU REFUSE TO HANDLE ALCOHOL AFTER 2 MONTH OR GO TO COURT?????

    IF YOU ARE A ROMAN CATHOLIC DO YOU COMPLAIN THAT BSDID NOT GET A FISH MEAL ON FRIDAY ??? DO YOU TAKE THE COMPANY TO COURT AND/OR EXPECT FISH EVERY FRIDAY????

    JUST A COUPLE OF SIMPLE FACTS OF LIVE ,SIMPLICITY IS BECOMING A WHOLE BIG PILE OF
    BS AND AND A WHOLE LOT OF PEOPLE ARE BECOMING VERY SELFSERVING.

    FIND OUT WHAT YOU CAN DO FOR YOUR COUNTRY ,INSTEAD WHAT YOUR COUNTRY CAN DO FOR YOU , REMEMBER THAT QUOTE ??? THIS WAS IN TIMES WE DID NOT BITE THE HAND WHAT FED US.

  31. Isn’t this pretty much similar to Kim Davis refusing to issue gay marriage license on religious ground? Imo, the flight attendant shouldn’t be forced to serve alcohol against her belief, but she should resign since she cannot perform her job duty as flight attendant (which includes serving alcoholic drinks) due to her own religious restriction.

  32. BEN?!?! I cannot believe you allow some of these hate comments. I was one of your biggest supporter and now you allow this shit??

  33. @Ken “This is no different. The pilots should come out and serve any drinks that are ordered.”

    LOL are you being serious or sarcastic? Hard to tell purely from the written word.

  34. In regards to the KY woman that refuses to marry gays, the law wasn’t established when she took the job. The people voted and the supreme court overruled, why??? I thought this was a democracy…and don’t come back with it’s the right thing to do and constitutional, but then WHY did they let people vote on this issue? You have to give the people what they want, that’s constitutional! In the case of the flight attendant, the service of the alcohol was established a long time ago, maybe before she was even born, two different situations…A new marriage law was established that overruled the people and an existing airplane law was in place that was in agreement by everyone…

  35. I’m tired of people like this, does nothing for society and only think for themselves. What is wrong with her??? is it really that big of a deal to piss off everyone around her just to make her HAPPY??? I’m not saying all Muslim as a whole, but it only seem Muslim do crap like this on a regular basis! I mean… you don’t see an Indian make a fuss out of eating beef/pork, you don’t see a Buddhist btching about wanting to eat vegie and last but not least you don’t see a catholic refusing or complaining about eating meat on a friggin friday! It’s fking 2015, not 200BC, please wake up and have some common sense. It pissed me off seeing people take advantage of others because they can.

  36. Dear Muslim fellow citizens ! Just name one muslim country where is peace, democracy and freedom .
    Where women are respected and have equal rights . Just name me one , because you R defending ferociously the religion of peace .

  37. This should be easy.
    Do not take a job or start a career that as part of the normal duties expected of you – that they will conflict with your religious beliefs. Unless of course the goal all along was to either cash in on the controversy or make a statement of some sort. If you can not perform your duties then request to be reassigned to a post or position that doesn’t offend you or require others to make special accommodations – Such as other workers required to add your refused duties to those they have to handle themselves.
    Simple – Not newsworthy.

  38. Really? I mean really? This is a story? This stupid lady takes a job she clearly knew she couldn’t perform? Ummm.. yea. This just makes her and the muslim community look dumb. Are we really going to give her attention for something this moronic? There is absolutely NO argument in her favor here. Fire her, and charge her for all the time wasted training her for a job she clearly was setting herself up for attention. We’ve turned into a bunch of morons when someone like this actually gets attention.

  39. If Clerk go to jail for refusing to make gays married as she followed the Bible, this lady should not be exempted from the same treatment. Both Clerk and Stanley should find other jobs if they can not do their job up to the full potential. The religion and the job MUST not be mixed up. If Stanley gets the job while Clerk goes to jail for very similar situations then the whole system is broke.

  40. First of all, the airline is the entity required to offer “reasonable accommodations,” NOT her fellow workers. She has produced no evidence to show that other FAs didn’t mind doing part of her job! As another commentator mentioned, the other FAs might well have refrained from comment in fear of being (falsely) labeled “islamophobic.” Second, having to constantly schedule her for two-FA flights unreasonably restricts the airline’s scheduling flexibility. If she can only do one class of flight, this could well mean infringing on the rights and choices of other FAs who might like two-FA flights, or need last-minute schedule changes.

    I’m quite sure this woman knew that FAs serve liquor, so she should NEVER have applied for the job!

  41. What stinks about this particular case is that she immediately went to her supervisor after realizing that serving alcohol would conflict with the tenets of her new religion (she is a recent convert to Islam). The supervisor told her to work out an arrangement with the other flight attendants. This arrangement apparently worked just fine until one of the other flight attendants lodged a complaint that she wasn’t doing her job. I find it very telling that the complaint also said she had a book with “foreign writings” and wore a headdress! It appears that the real reason she was suspended was another flight attendant’s Islamophobia!

  42. Grant her wish and she’ll just show up with another one. Why don’t companies have any rights in America when it comes to Muslim employees?? Muslims want to dress as they please irrespective of company dress code, they want to cover their face work the front desk, they want to bag stuff at the supermarket as long as you don’t buy pork and the list keeps growing. where do you draw the line?? hebrewsghatgmaildotcom

  43. When being on a flight I don’t think asking another flight attendant to serve alcohol is a burden, if she decides she will take on the other responsibilities to even it out, like serving soda, or the snacks, or food, so that way the other attendant doesn’t feel over burden, it’s call team work n helping each other, I guess the other flight attendant was just stuck up, because I know when I was younger as a server in.a restaurant we worked together, and my whole life I have always had respect for others religion, to bad the rest of the world n cooperate world do not, this woman should be able to have her job back

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