A Texas Chicken Express employee says she’s dealing with religious discrimination after her manager allegedly told her to remove her hijab at work and then sent her home for refusing.
According to CNN, Stefanae Coleman arrived at work on Monday (Dec. 30) wearing a hijab for the first time after her recent conversion to Islam. However, she was met with criticism from her manager who said the hijab didn’t meet the employee dress code.
“Once I clocked in, the manager said ‘Take off anything that doesn’t involve Chicken Express,’ which I knew he was talking about my hijab,” Coleman told CNN. “So I didn’t react, I just went to the back and took off my jacket and my purse. Five minutes later, he called me into the office telling me that I have to take it off because it’s not a part of the work uniform.”
Coleman recorded part of the incident and posted on social media.
Rhett Warren, an attorney representing the Chicken Express franchisee, told CNN that sending Coleman home was a “mistake.”
“The manager’s decision to send Ms. Coleman home for wearing the headscarf was due to a lack of training,” Warren said, CNN reports. “The manager was using a strict interpretation of the company policy that does not allow derivations from the standard employee uniform, and he unfortunately did not take religious liberty into consideration.”
After an apology from the Chicken Express owner, Coleman returned to work on Tuesday (Dec. 31) but says she still faced discrimination from other employees.
“There are so many Chicken Expresses in Texas and they all allow people to wear hijabs with no problem,” Coleman told CNN. “It was racism and discrimination… They’re just trying to sweep it under the rug.”
According to CNN, the Council on American-Islamic Relations, a civil rights group, is representing Coleman following the incident.