Texas restaurant apologizes for handling of employee sent home for wearing her hijab
The Chicken Express franchise manager has been with the location about a year.
January 3, 2020, 11:06 PM
5 min read
A young woman in Texas who said she was sent home from work because of her hijab has gone viral after she posted what she says is a video of her experience online.
Stefanae Coleman posted a video on Twitter Monday of what she says was her discussion with a manager at a Chicken Express restaurant in Fort Worth, Texas, who allegedly told her to leave for wearing a hijab at work.
In the video, which has garnered over 635K views, Coleman starts explaining to her manager why she wears a hijab.
The unidentified man wearing a red Chicken Express polo shirt and headset tells Coleman, “Your job is your job and it has nothing to do with religion.”
Coleman, 22, responded that she “read the handbook and in the handbook it doesn’t say anything about not being able to wear religious head pieces.”
“It says you have to follow the Chicken Express uniform policy and it lists out what it is and it doesn’t involve anything else,” he replied.
The manager can be heard suggesting that they would need to have a discussion with two other employees.
The young woman also said on Twitter that she converted to Islam in August and began working at the restaurant chain in October. She added that the handbook said there was “equal opportunity for every religion,” which is why she felt comfortable working there.
She also stated that she notified her manager of her religion when she was hired.
Rhett Warren, an attorney representing the Chicken Express franchise owner where the incident occurred, told ABC News in a statement that the manager in question “unfortunately did not take religious liberty into consideration.”
“Ms. Coleman is not facing discrimination for her decision to wear a headscarf or for being Muslim. The manager’s decision to send Ms. Coleman home for wearing the headscarf was due to a lack of training,” he explained. “The manager was using a strict interpretation of the company policy that does not allow derivations from the standard employee uniform, and he unfortunately did not take religious liberty into consideration.”
According to Warren, Coleman was paid for the hours that she would have worked that day and is still employed at that Chicken Express location.
The statement also said “she worked the following day and was allowed to wear her headscarf.”
“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,” Warren continued. “The manager has been reprimanded for his decision, and he will receive further training on how to properly handle similar situations in the future.”
Warren also told ABC News the manager has been with this Chicken Express location for just over a year and the owner has been a Chicken Express franchisee for approximately 15 years.
Warren declined to provide names to ABC News of his client, the owner/operator, or the manager in question.
Coleman told ABC News that the response to her video has been “50/50,” with some support from the Muslim community. But she has “received some racist comments” on Twitter.
“I pay no mind to it because I know what I’m doing is right and can help other women like me,” she said.
Coleman added that she hopes this serves as a lesson “for employees [to] be strong and fight for you rights and for employers [to] study about the hijab and what it means to Muslim women.”