09-06-2015, 10:14 PM #1
MI - Muslim flight attendant suspended for refusing to serve alcohol, 25 Aug 2015
Stanley, 40, started working for ExpressJet nearly three years ago. About two years ago she converted to Islam. This year she learned her faith prohibits her from not only consuming alcohol but serving it, too, Masri said.
She approached her supervisor on June 1 and was told to work out an arrangement for someone to fulfill passenger requests for alcohol.
"It was at the direction of the airlines that she began coordinating with the other flight attendant on duty so that when a passenger requested alcohol, the other flight attendant would accommodate that request," Masri said.It seemed to be working out until another flight attendant filed a complaint against Stanley on August 2 claiming she was not fulfilling her duties by refusing to serve alcohol, Masri said. The employee complaint also said Stanley had a book with "foreign writings" and wore a headdress.
On August 25, the airline sent a letter to Stanley informing her that it was revoking its religious accommodation to exclude her from service of alcohol and placing her on administrative leave.
"They placed her on unpaid leave and they advised her that her employment may be terminated after 12 months," Masri said. "We are requesting that her employment be reinstated and the accommodation of her religious beliefs be reinstated as well."
A spokesman for ExpressJet declined to discuss Stanley's complaint.
'Expressjet has 1-2 flight attendants on board. There's about 70 passengers on board those planes and those flights are pretty quick.
'So there's going to be times when her other attendant literally has no time to help because they have to serve first class.
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One of the videos (below) online further explains that on small flights of less than 50 passengers, alcoholic beverage service has to be suspended because only one flight attendant is scheduled, and the pilot cannot leave the cockpit to substitute for her serving. So some of the issue is that paying passengers are inconvenienced/ denied an advertised service, due to her religious beliefs. And then there are potential scheduling difficulties, for example, if 2 Muslim flight attendants were scheduled for the same flight, again, service would have to be suspended to paying passengers.
What do posters think? Is the airline right to suspend the flight attendant? Does the flight attendant have a right to accommodations, even at the inconvenience of paying passengers?
What accommodations for religious beliefs are "reasonable"? Is there a point in which some work environments cannot accommodate all religious beliefs?
09-06-2015, 10:27 PM #2
There was a similar issue in Minnesota a few years ago, where Muslim taxi drivers refused to take passengers who they perceived had been drinking alcohol, as paid fares. They also refused to transport passengers who were carrying sealed containers of alcohol that had been purchased. Some also refused service to disabled passengers with service dogs, because Islam considers dogs unclean.
The Minnesota Court of Appeals ruled Tuesday against the cab drivers' attempt to block penalties for refusing service.
An ordinance adopted by the Metropolitan Airports Commission last year revokes a cab driver's license for 30 days for refusing a fare at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport. A second refusal brings a two-year revocation.
A large share of the cabbies who serve the airport are Somali Muslims, and many of them believe that Islamic law prohibits them from giving rides to people carrying alcohol. Since the commission began keeping track in 2002, there have been over 5,200 recorded instances of cabbies refusing service to passengers at the airport, including a "significant percentage" of passengers carrying alcohol, which is sometimes visible through bags or in wine boxes, the appeals court noted.
Commissioners at one of the country's biggest airports are considering punishing Muslim cab drivers who refuse service to passengers possessing alcohol or guide dogs.
09-06-2015, 10:27 PM #3
May I suggest this person also doesn't apply for a job at the local saloon!
When ones own beliefs change & your occupation is no longer in alignment with those beliefs, you quit that job! It's simple.
Move onto a job more appropriate---that is an individual's responsibility.
Moo- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
"Look, if any of us wanted to mind our own business, we wouldn't be here" (carbuff 8/11/13)
This post reflects my constitutionally-protected opinion. Please do not copy it anywhere else outside of the WebSleuth forum
09-06-2015, 10:35 PM #4
We need taxis to drive drunk people around. I'm being serious. I think taxis are essential to cutting down on people driving drunk so it's crazy (imo) to refuse a ride to a person who's been drinking. Mind boggling.
As for the flight attendant... Maybe she can be moved to another position that doesn't require her to serve alcohol? I think that's reasonable if it's possible. Otherwise she needs to find a new job.
09-06-2015, 10:40 PM #5
So, another huge question I have, based on the Muslim taxi drivers refusing service to passengers with service dogs, and passengers who have consumed alcohol served by another flight attendant:
Would this Muslim flight attendant refuse to provide other ordinary inflight assistance to passengers who were served alcohol by another flight attendant?
Would this flight attendant refuse to assist a passenger in an emergency, if she knew, or perceived the passenger had been drinking alcohol?
That is a huge, huge issue.
09-06-2015, 10:44 PM #6
ETA: I think the airline probably did offer her a "desk job" or a ground position in the company, and she refused. I have no proof for that opinion-- but knowing how the legal end of things work for employers, I have a strong feeling that she was offered a ground job and refused, and then was suspended.
09-06-2015, 10:47 PM #7
I don't think it's huge if it's stopped before it gets to the point where the FA could refuse assistance to a passenger. If you can't perform the duties of your job (barring a disability) this isn't the job for you. Like TasteOfHoney said, would she work at a saloon?
09-06-2015, 10:55 PM #8
If I am correct in my suspicions, and she refused an offer of a ground job within the company, she will lose the lawsuit, IMO.
Because the company would have been offering a "reasonable accommodation" by offering a different position that accommodates her beliefs, as well as the rights of passengers, and the duty of the company to both the passengers and the employee.
I think there will be a lot more to this story to come out on both sides, if it stays in the news. I think there were likely other issues related to job performance-- just my suspicion.
09-06-2015, 10:59 PM #9
I flew airevac as a flight nurse and medical crew director for the USAF for a number of years, so I have a lot of familiarity with scheduling and crew duty day issues, flightline issues, inflight accommodations, etc.
So, another area I have questions about is how do they accommodate her very likely request for private prayer time during her crew duty day, and also while inflight?
Muslims pray 5 times a day, facing Mecca. Some work places provide private foot washing (purification) bathrooms and prayer rooms. How would this be accommodated for a flight crew member? Certainly a departure delay for prayer rituals would be unacceptable, as would issues surrounding landing procedures, etc, if she were engaged in prayer rituals inflight.
09-06-2015, 11:00 PM #10
From what I've read (esp. in the article I linked to in the Rowan County marriage license thread), religious exemptions are generally allowed/required when it can done without undue hardship. It's decided on a case-by-case basis.
Unlike the Rowan County marriage license case, in which deputy clerks can sign the licenses, in the taxi case, there is no "deputy driver" riding around with the cabbies who can do the driving when a person with a bottle of alcohol needs a taxi ride. That cab is simply unavailable to any passenger carrying alcohol or who has been drinking alcohol.
Also, with such a large percentage of taxi drivers being Muslim, it has a much greater effect on passengers at the airport than if it were just one or two drivers. You can't just go to the next cab in line, because he's Muslim too. And the next one, and the next one.
So .... if it were up to me, I think I'd have to say no, the taxi drivers don't get to pick and choose that way. You want to be allowed to pick up passengers at the airport, you take all comers.
The flight attendant case is more grey area-ish. I don't know if it would be an undue hardship or not for the airline to have her only work on larger planes that have more flight attendants, so that there's always at least one flight attendant to serve alcohol to the passengers. I would need more information to form an opinion.
I would not consider it acceptable to simply not have alcohol service on flights where that woman is the only flight attendant. It's a service that's expected by the paying passengers. Unless it's sold as an alcohol-free flight, it's part of what they're paying for. She doesn't get to deprive a whole planeload of passengers of part of their paid-for service. But as long as there are other flight attendants who are able to serve the passengers on a timely basis, I have no problem with it.
Is it wrong of me to smile at the thought that she would be freed up to clean the lavatory and collect the vomit bags while the other flight attendants are busy serving Jack-and-Cokes?JMO. MOO.
09-06-2015, 11:06 PM #11
09-06-2015, 11:06 PM #12
Medical assistance is a biggie.
The extent of accommodation, and the time it requires, are two more.
It's not just a matter of refusing to serve alcohol, is it? There's a whole constellation of accommodations that could be requested/required.
Maybe some people just aren't suited for certain types of jobs. I think someone who requires freedom from any exposure to alcohol, private foot washing, timeouts for prayer 5x a day, exemption from providing medical assistance to passengers who have consumed alcohol, etc., etc., is maybe better suited for one of those jobs where you make $7500/hr working at home in your jammies. I see a lot of those jobs being offered on Facebook.JMO. MOO.
09-06-2015, 11:10 PM #13
There is also the issue that ExpressJet is a small, regional carrier. Most flights are less than 2 hours long, with "turn and burn" schedules. So this isn't like a large legacy carrier that has 4-6 FA's on bigger jets and longer flights. ExpressJet likely doesn't have the option to move her to only work on flights with another FA. And as one video points out, if the other FA is assigned to first class passengers on a short flight, there isn't time for that FA to take care of his/ her section, AND leave periodically to attend to the coach passengers, too. That's a work distribution issue that could create a lot of animosity.
09-06-2015, 11:15 PM #14
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