Case settlement reached in woman asked to remove hijab

Candice Williams
The Detroit News
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A Michigan civil rights group and Advance America Cash Advance Centers Inc. announced a settlement Thursday in a case involving a Muslim woman asked to remove her religious head scarf when entering the store.

A lawsuit filed by the Michigan chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations against Advance America stemmed from a June 2014 incident in which an Advance America employee asked the woman to remove her hijab when she attempted to enter a store in Inkster to cash a money order.

The lawsuit filed in November challenged a company security policy that required customers to remove head coverings to enter an Advance America center.

Details of the settlement were not released Thursday. Officials said the agreement includes the company changing its policy to allow customers to wear their religious head covering as long as their face is visible for identification.

CAIR on Thursday praised the settlement.

“ ... (W)e welcome Advance America’s policy change that accommodates Muslim women who wear the hijab, as well as individuals of other faith backgrounds who wear religious head coverings,” said Lena Masri, senior staff attorney, , said in a statement.

Masri served as co-counsel with attorney Shereef Akeel of Akeel & Valentine, PLC.

Advance America representative Jamie Fulmer said the company was pleased to work with CAIR-MI to find a solution “that is both mindful of our need to protect the safety and security of our centers and employees, and respectful of the religious beliefs and practices of our customers.”

The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee of Michigan also responded to the settlement Thursday.

“Advance America’s efforts to adjust its nationwide policy to balance its security needs with the unique needs of different communities is a positive step for all Americans, and should be commended,” said Fatina Abdrabboh, executive director for ADC-MI.

In separate cases this year, local Muslim women have filed lawsuits against Dearborn Heights, Dearborn and the Oceana County Sheriff’s Office for allegedly forcing them to remove their hijabs following traffic violation arrests.

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