A Muslim woman was allegedly expelled from a Murfreesboro, Tenn., college earlier this year because she covered her hair for religious reasons, according to the Tennessean.
According to the outlet, Linde McAvoy was attending the Georgia Career Institute when she experienced discrimination against her religion. Muslim Advocates and a New York law firm sent a letter to the college stating that McAvoy is owed thousands of dollars worth of tuition she paid to be a part of the school’s esthetics program.
“GCI’s conduct is completely unjustified. No person should be forced to choose between receiving an education and complying with their sincerely held religious beliefs,” the letter read. “The GCI must take immediate steps to remedy this discriminatory situation.”
Muslim Advocates and Beldock Levine & Hoffman LLP, on behalf of McAvoy, are demanding that GCI compensate the student for the discrimination she experienced, as well as amend its dress code to allow religious clothing and to provide staff with anti-discrimination training.
Joyce Meadows, the president and CEO of GCI, informed the outlet that students are allowed to wear religious head coverings should they bring a letter from a religious leader that explains why they need to wear it. “She never produced [the letter]. End of story,” Meadows told the outlet, who on Tuesday morning had not yet seen the demand letter. “We’re not discriminating against anybody. We would be delighted to have her to come in with her headdress. It’s no problem.”
According to the letter, McAvoy was told to stop wearing her hijab because Meadows said it violated the school’s dress code. However, the dress code does not prohibit religious head coverings. McAvoy continued to wear her hijab and was repeatedly ejected from her classes. She declined to show proof that she wore it for religious reasons.
GCI expelled McAvoy on or around Feb. 23, 2018, according to the letter.
Meadows told the outlet that the dress code required students to have their hair and makeup done. Students who did not do their hair had tried to cover it with a hat or other headgear, she said, and the policy was created to prevent that, not for discriminatory reasons. She asserted that other Muslim students have followed the rule.
“If they abide by the policy, then there’s no issue,” Meadows said.
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