American-EEOC Settle Religious Attire Case

CHICAGO - A Chicago federal judge today signed an agreement between American Airlines and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission to settle a case which arose before American established a groundbreaking Religious Accommodation Policy in 1999.


The case involved a woman who applied for a job as a passenger service agent in early 1998 and wanted to wear a hijab (an Islamic religious head covering) on duty. American’s policies at the time did not permit uniformed customer contact employees to wear religious attire or religious jewelry, and the woman was offered another non-uniformed job.


In 1999, American enacted a Religious Accommodation Policy which permits the wearing of hijabs, crucifixes, yamulkes and other religious attire and jewelry by uniformed customer contact employees. The policy also established employee prayer rooms at American locations, allowed time away from duty for certain prayer obligations and recognized the prayer obligation needs of customers on board American aircraft.


“We have been on the forefront of these issues precisely because we were among the first to recognize the importance of including religious diversity in our diversity programs,” said American Associate General Counsel Debra Hunter Johnson. “Our Religious Accommodation Policy reflects input from the employee Diversity Advisory Council - one of the few employee diversity councils which includes representatives of religious groups.”


American denies the allegations of discrimination brought by the EEOC. “It is significant that this is the only complaint of this nature ever brought to the EEOC against American,” Hunter Johnson said.

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Chicago U.S. District Court Judge John W. Darrah today signed the order of resolution bringing an end to the matter.

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