MONTGOMERY, Ala. — A Muslim flight attendant for ExpressJet says she was wrongly suspended from her job last month because she refused to serve alcohol to passengers, citing her religious beliefs.
Charee Stanley, a Detroit-based flight attendant for ExpressJet, filed a discrimination complaint Tuesday with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
The airline had agreed to give Stanley a religious accommodation, saying she could work out an arrangement with the other flight attendant on duty so they could serve alcohol instead. She was suspended only after a colleague complained, said Lena Masri, an attorney with the Michigan chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations.
Masri said no one “should have to choose between their career and religion.” Employers, she told CNN, must “provide a safe environment where employees can feel they can practice their religion freely.”
Stanley, 40, has worked for the Atlanta-based airline for nearly three years and during that time converted to Islam, Masri said. Stanley approached a supervisor in June after learning that her faith forbids not just consuming alcohol but also serving it.
When the co-worker complained, Stanley was put on unpaid leave for a year, Masri said.
“She was placed on unpaid leave for following the instructions that ExpressJet airlines gave her,” Masri said.
Masri claimed the complaint against Stanley was discriminatory, with the employee noting Stanley carried a book with “foreign writings” and wore a head scarf.
A spokeswoman for ExpressJet said in an emailed statement that the airline values diversity but could not comment on specific personnel matters.
“At ExpressJet, we embrace and respect the values of all of our team members. We are an equal opportunity employer with a long history of diversity in our workforce,” the statement said.
ExpressJet has 9,000 employees, 388 planes and averages 2,200 flights each day, according to the company’s website.