A Muslim flight attendant is suing an airline after she was suspended from her job for refusing to serve alcohol. Charee Stanley was an employee at ExpressJet for three years. After converting to Islam she found out that sharia law forbids her from serving alcohol to others, as well as drinking it.
She subsequently informed her supervisor of the problem in June, and was told to come to an arrangement with a colleague to allow passengers to get their drinks. However, after a steward filed a formal complaint about her, she was suspended from the airline in August.
Stanley has now filed a discrimination complaint against the carrier, claiming they are required by law to make "reasonable accommodation" of her beliefs. Explaining the circumstance Stanley Lena Masri, an attorney for the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) in Michigan, said: "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.
"We know that this arrangement has worked beautifully and without incident and that it hasn't caused any undue burden on the airline. After all, it was the suggestion of the airline."
Problems reportedly arose following the complaint by a colleague who also added that "Stanley had a book with foreign writings and wore a headdress," CNN reported.
Stanley received a letter from the airline on August 25 stating that they were revoking its religious accommodation which excluded her from serving alcohol and placed her on administrative leave. Speaking at a news conference, Stanley said she has requested her religious beliefs accommodations to be reinstated and be allowed to return to her role.
"We notified ExpressJet Airlines of its obligation under the law to reasonably accommodate Ms. Stanley's religious beliefs," Masri explained. "Instead, ExpressJet chose to violate Ms. Stanely's constitutional rights, placed her on administrative leave for 12 months, after which her employment may be administratively terminated."
Speaking at a news conference, Stanley added: "I don't think that I should have to choose between practicing my religion properly or earning a living. I shouldn't have to choose between one or the other because they're both important."
Commentators on Twitter have pointed out the similarities in the case with Kim Davis, the Christian government worker who was jailed for refusing to issue marriage licences to gay people. Davis told The Kentucky Trial Court Review that she was ready to head to jail for her beliefs. "I would have to either make a decision to stand or I would have to buckle down and leave ... And if I left, resigned or chose to retire, I would have no voice for God's word."
Many have suggested that Stanley should quit her job if she feels so strongly about her religious convictions.
Speaking anonymously about the issue a flight attendant said: "Why be a [Flight Attendant]? That's our job. Finding another attendant to serve alcohol isn't that simple. She needs to find a new job, simple as that. 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. Maybe she should go mainline because there's more attendants on board that could help."
According to Mail Online a spokesman for ExpressJet issued a statement, but refused to comment about Stanley's complaint. The statement read: "At ExpressJet, we embrace and respect the values of all of our team members,' airline spokesman Jarek Beem wrote in an email to CBS. 'We are an equal opportunity employer with a long history of diversity in our workforce. As Ms. Stanley is an employee, we are not able to comment on her personnel matters."
Charee Stanley got suspended from her job because her faith prohibits her from serving alcohol. #ReligiousLiberty folk, where you at though?
— Chukwuebuka Okoye (@Snoukabuka) September 6, 2015