Chicken Express says a Saginaw branch manager has been reprimanded and will receive more training after sending a worker home for wearing a hijab.
Stefanae Coleman shared a video of the incident to twitter where she explains to the manager that her hijab is religious headwear.
Coleman said she’d converted to Islam several months ago.
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“Since I converted my life has actually been a lot more positive and I can tell that there’s a change within myself,” said Coleman.
It’s a change that she said prevented her from reacting negatively when she says she was confronted with negativity at her job. In the she shared on her social media page, Coleman is seen interacting with a manager at the Chicken Express in Saginaw after she says she was given an ultimatum.
She says she was told to take off her hijab or go home.
“He called me into the office and he’s like ‘I talked to the area coach and she said that you’re not allowed to wear it because it’s not a part of the uniform policy,’” she said.
Coleman refused to take off her hijab.
“I said I’m not going to remove it for you,” she said. “And he was like ‘ok then we’re just going to have to send you home.’”
Soon after the incident, Coleman connected with the DFW chapter Council for American-Islamic Relations.
“Asking a Muslim woman to take off her hijab would be like asking another lady to take off her shirt in public,” said Faizan Syed, Executive Director of CAIR. “It really was like either you undress at work or you go home.”
Syed said an attorney representing Chicken Express reached out to the organization. He says he hopes to partner with Chicken Express for diversity training.
“What can be done to make sure that people like Ms. Coleman can go to work, feel safe, feel welcomed at their business?” said Syed.
Chicken Express released a statement saying the manager will receive additional training.
The statement said he used a strict interpretation of company policy and did not take religious liberty into consideration.
The statement goes on to read in part:
“An apology was made to Ms. Coleman for the mistake. The Chicken Express franchisee is addressing this issue through additional training, and Ms. Coleman has been asked to participate in developing the training so that a mistake like this will not happen again. The manager has been reprimanded for his decision, and he will receive further training on how to properly handle similar situations in the future.”
Coleman says she has no plans of returning.
“I don’t want to be in a work environment where I have to look over my shoulder or have to hear people talking about me,” she said.
CAIR says it does not currently have plans to take legal action.
The Council on American Islamic Relations DFW chapter says it hopes to work with Chicken Express so no incidents like this can happen again.