MI - Muslim flight attendant suspended for refusing to serve alcohol, 25 Aug 2015

Discussion in 'Up to the Minute' started by K_Z, Sep 6, 2015.

  1. K_Z

    K_Z Verified Anesthetist

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    [video=cnn;us/2015/09/06/muslim-flight-attendant-expressjet-no-alcohol-valencia-pkg-nr.cnn]http://www.cnn.com/2015/09/05/travel/muslim-flight-attendant-feat/index.html[/video]


    http://www.ibtimes.com/muslim-fligh...ended-expressjet-after-refusing-serve-2084972



    Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/art...ded-refusing-serve-alcohol.html#ixzz3l0ytYbMO
    Follow us: @MailOnline on Twitter | DailyMail on Facebook


    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.

    http://www.msn.com/en-us/news/us/flight-attendant-i-was-suspended-for-religious-beliefs/vi-AAe0MAj

    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?
     
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  3. K_Z

    K_Z Verified Anesthetist

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    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.

    http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/news/religion/2008-09-09-muslim-taxis_N.htm

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/10/25/AR2006102501727.html

    http://www.foxnews.com/story/2007/0...using-service-to-passengers-with-alcohol.html

    http://abcnews.go.com/International/Story?id=2827800&page=1

    http://www.startribune.com/taxi-proposal-gets-sharp-response/11586646/
     
  4. ATasteOfHoney

    ATasteOfHoney Active Member

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    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
     
  5. bluesneakers

    bluesneakers Keep your eyes glued to the floor

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    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.
     
  6. K_Z

    K_Z Verified Anesthetist

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    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.
     
  7. K_Z

    K_Z Verified Anesthetist

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    BBM. If you watch the CNN video, the interviewer brings up that very issue-- is the employee willing to be moved to another position within the company? The attorney goes to great lengths to avoid answering that question, and continues to emphasize that the airline MUST accommodate her religious beliefs IN THAT POSITION. The interviewer brings up the issue of REASONABLE accommodations, which is repeatedly dodged by the attorney for the flight attendant.

    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.
     
  8. bluesneakers

    bluesneakers Keep your eyes glued to the floor

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    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?
     
  9. K_Z

    K_Z Verified Anesthetist

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    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.
     
  10. K_Z

    K_Z Verified Anesthetist

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    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.
     
  11. sonjay

    sonjay New Member

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    These types of cases always raise interesting legal issues, in that they pit the rights of this individual against the rights of that individual.

    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?
     
  12. bluesneakers

    bluesneakers Keep your eyes glued to the floor

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    Wouldn't they be dealing with this issue already? If she converted two years ago it's certainly come up, and there's no way (well, maybe there is but I kind of doubt it) she's the only Muslim FA working for a non-Muslim airline.
     
  13. sonjay

    sonjay New Member

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    Oh, you've brought up quite a few good points I hadn't thought of.

    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.
     
  14. K_Z

    K_Z Verified Anesthetist

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    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.

    http://www.expressjet.com/
     
  15. K_Z

    K_Z Verified Anesthetist

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    BBM. Exactly! There are also issues like clearing empty cups and cans/ bottles, handling trash, whether or not she will consent to pushing the pre-loaded beverage cart up the aisle if it has alcoholic beverages stocked on it, etc. Many other "ordinary" inflight duties are affected by her refusal to "serve" alcohol-- it isn't just the handing out of the beverages she objects to, IMO.
     
  16. sonjay

    sonjay New Member

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    That sounds like undue hardship to me.
     
  17. sonjay

    sonjay New Member

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    You know what I don't get?

    I just don't get all these people whose religions are destroyed due to their exposure to the normal day-to-day aspects of living in a civilized society. Whether it's a county clerk signing marriage licenses or a flight attendant serving alcohol and picking up the empties, or a cabbie hauling passengers around.... They live in society. They hold jobs that require that they have a great deal of contact with the general public. Are their religions really that fragile?

    Who was it that went off and lived in a cave? Maybe these people need to consider doing that. I don't think they're cut out for living in society. Certainly they're not cut out for working in society.
     
  18. K_Z

    K_Z Verified Anesthetist

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    I think it's more an issue of "entitlement". There is a segment of the population that believes that the rest of the population and all workplaces *must* cave in and "accommodate" anything they state they "will not do". Or accommodate things the employee says they "must do" (on the job prayer rituals).

    I mentioned before that we have had a handful of CRNA applicants to our company who arrive to the interview with a substantial "will not do" list. Fortunately, we have (so far) always been appraised of these "will not do" lists before hiring, and have been able to communicate that in our small hospitals, we cannot accommodate the "will not do" situations. Our staffing is simply too tight to have another qualified staff member around 24/7 to substitute for whatever it is that they "will not do". On call situations are even more tenuous. So fortunately, we have persuaded these applicants that they need to look at other positions in bigger hospitals, who can perhaps accommodate their "will not do" list. I always thank them for their honesty. I think it's very moral and ethical to be up front about "will not do" lists BEFORE being hired.

    And as mentioned upthread, if something in your personal belief set changes once hired, or something in the job changes that you can't live with internally, then I believe it's the responsibility of the worker to resign from the job. There are definitely many jobs which can't accommodate every single religious request.

    This kind of thing (the flight attendant, taxi drivers, the marriage license clerk) is a much different kind of accommodation situation than an employee that just wants to be scheduled "off" a few time a year to attend to religious holidays.
     
  19. Hejlena

    Hejlena Former Member

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    I agree, and will add that, just as in the marriage license lady's case, there is a continuum on which Muslims (or any other culture or religion" practice their customs and rituals. I work with many people who are Muslim, who run the gamut of very fundamental to very casual. Making accomodations for themselves or asking for accomodations has never been an issue.

    But I do believe that if your belief system restricts you from doing your job with a reasonable amount flexibility and common sense, then it is your responsibility to move on.

    In America it's okay to make ridiculous demands for accommodations. It's up to the courts to test them.
     
  20. sonjay

    sonjay New Member

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    I'm sure you're right.

    I was commenting as if their stated reason was their actual reason. Their stated reason, IMO, suggests that their religion is so fragile that it would be destroyed if they actually to serve an alcoholic drink to a passenger, sign a same-sex marriage license, or transport someone who had in their possession an unopened bottle of Grey Goose.

    But.... "I'm entitled to demand of you anything I want" isn't a protected demand. "My religion requires this" is a protected demand, at least sometimes. So they present it as a religious requirement -- but they don't realize that it claims that their religion is so fragile as to be unsustainable in a diverse society.
     
  21. human

    human Well-Known Member

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    What about other rules of religion? Do people get to pick only certain ones to get all concerned about?
     

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