An Arkansas teacher has lost a case he lodged against the Watson Chapel School District for religious discrimination, a hostile work environment and retaliation.
Mark Leon Essex Smith filed a lawsuit against the district last October after he said he was discriminated against for his Muslim faith. According to the complaint, Smith arrived at Watson Chapel Junior High School in September 2010 wearing a dashiki — a colorful West African garment — and Muslim headwear kufi in observation of Eid al Fitre, a Muslim holiday that marks the end of Ramadan.
When school Principal Henry Webb asked Smith to go home and change his clothes, citing “unprofessional” attire, the teacher complied under the assumption that his current dress was in violation of school policy. Smith later filed a grievance to the district — that was declined by district officials — upon discovery that the school dress code merely states that “the drew and grooming of all certified personnel should be appropriate for the professional duties performed.”
Smith claims that in retaliation for filing a grievance against the school to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, he was reassigned from his position. The teacher adds that he was forced to work through lunch, without added pay, for 92 days. The suit claims he is owed $1,486 plus interest for the unpaid hours.
But the district argues that because Smith’s faith does not require the attire, there is no case for discrimination. Officials also say that the district adheres to a strict neutral policy that backs away from taking public positions on political candidates, parties or theologies, the Pine Bluff Commercial reports. District officials also contend that Smith was reassigned for legitimate, non-discriminatory reasons and his salary remained the same, thus suffering “no adverse employment action.”
The jury found the case in the district’s favor on all three theories of religious discrimination, hostile work environment and retaliation, following a three-day trial. District Superintendent Danny Hazelwood told the Pine Bluff Commercial that the district “really did nothing wrong.” But Smith says he’s not giving up.
A spectacle for all the students and community to see as opportunist Muslim (convert) victimhood slash dawah continues.