BRIDGEWATER — A Raritan Borough man is suing the company that manages the Bridgewater Commons mall claiming it wrongfully removed him from his security guard job after he mistakenly asked a Muslim woman to remove her head scarf.
Marc Krause, 40, had been an exemplary employee at the General Growth Properties-owned mall since 2003, according to the discrimination lawsuit filed Monday in state Superior Court in Somerville.
But on May 19, Krause made the mistake of trying to enforce the mall’s “no mask” policy against a woman wearing a hijab, a veiling of the hair and face used by some women of the Muslim faith.
The incident sparked outcry in the media, resulting in the mall publicly apologizing to the woman. The woman filed a civilian harassment complaint in Bridgewater Municipal Court, but the charge later was dropped.
Krause, who suffers from a mild learning disability, or borderline intellectual functioning, made an innocent mistake but was severely punished by his employers, according to the lawsuit filed by attorney Brian Cige of Somerville.
The lawsuit names General Growth Properties and the security firm IPC International Corp. as defendants.
The lawsuit, which is seeking unspecified damages and the reinstatement of Krause in his previous post at $11.77 an hour with benefits, said Krause was unaware of exceptions to the “no mask” rule and received cultural training after the incident.
Nevertheless, the mall sought to transfer Krause to a new job in West Windsor, which Krause found stressful because of the longer commute and the fact that he would have to work alone. He was forced to collect unemployment benefits, the suit says.
Krause was hired by the mall through Alternatives, a Raritan Borough-based nonprofit that provides support services for people with disabilities.
Mall officials could not be reached for comment Friday.
Bridgewater is an area of NJ we’ve posted on several times due to multiple million dollar mosques being built in residential neighborhoods, and a jihadi we never heard about again.