DOJ Settles Over Hijab

October 24, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

DOJ Press Release

hijabWASHINGTON — The Department of Justice announced today that it has entered into a consent decree with the Board of Education of Berkeley School District 87 in Berkeley, Ill. that, if approved by the court, will resolve a religious accommodations lawsuit filed in December 2010.  In its lawsuit, the United States alleged that the school district violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 by failing to reasonably accommodate the religious practices of Safoorah Khan, a Muslim teacher at McArthur Middle School. “Employees should not have to choose between practicing their religion and their jobs,” said Thomas Perez, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division.  “The facts of this case show the consequences of an employer refusing to engage in any interactive process to understand and work with an employee to find an accommodation of the employee’s religious beliefs that will not cause undue hardship to the employer.  We are pleased that Berkeley School District has agreed to implement a training program that puts into place an interactive process to ensure that each request for a religious accommodation will be considered on a case-by-case basis and granted if it poses no undue hardship on the school district.” The government’s complaint, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois in Chicago, alleged that Ms. Khan requested an unpaid leave of absence in December 2008 to perform Hajj, a pilgrimage required by her religion, Islam.  According to the complaint, Berkeley School District denied Ms. Khan a reasonable accommodation of her religious practice, compelling Ms. Khan to choose between her job and her religious beliefs, thus forcing her discharge.  The United States also alleged that the school district maintains a policy under which it refuses to grant leave to non-tenured teachers as an accommodation for their religious practices if the leave requested is not already provided for in the school district’s leave policy.  The lawsuit was based on a charge of discrimination filed by Ms. Khan with the Chicago District Office of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).  After investigating Ms. Khan’s charge, finding reasonable cause to believe that Berkeley School District had discriminated against Ms. Khan, and unsuccessfully attempting to conciliate the matter, the EEOC referred the charge to the Department of Justice.

Under the terms of the consent decree, Berkeley School District will pay $75,000 to Ms. Khan for lost back pay, compensatory damages and attorneys’ fees.  Berkeley School District also is required to develop and distribute a religious accommodation policy consistent with Title VII’s requirement to reasonably accommodate the religious beliefs, practices and/or observances of all employees and prospective employees.  In addition, Berkeley School District is required to provide mandatory training on religious accommodation to all board of education members, supervisors, managers, administrators and human resources officials who participate in decisions on religious accommodation requests made by its employees and prospective employees.  This is the first lawsuit brought by the Department of Justice as a result of a pilot project designed to ensure vigorous enforcement of Title VII against state and local governmental employers by enhancing cooperation between the EEOC and the Civil Rights Division. “As the favorable resolution of this case demonstrates, closer collaboration between the EEOC and the Department of Justice will strengthen the enforcement of this nation’s civil rights laws,” said Jacqueline A. Berrien, Chair of the EEOC.  “Our partnership is critical to ensuring that workplaces are free of bias.”  Title VII prohibits discrimination in employment on the basis of gender, race, color, national origin or religion, and prohibits retaliation against an employee who opposes an unlawful employment practice, or because the employee has made a charge or participated in an investigation, proceeding or hearing under the Act.  More information about Title VII and other federal employment laws is available on the Department of Justice website at www.usdoj.gov/crt/emp/index.html

The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination.  Further information about the EEOC is available on its website at www.eeoc.gov

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US Scientist Charged with Attempted Spying for Israel

October 22, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

AFP

nozette
Alfred Nozette, third from left.

WASHINGTON–The US authorities arrested Monday a leading American scientist who had worked for the Pentagon and NASA and charged him with attempted spying for Israel.

Stewart Nozette, 52, was apprehended after a sting operation involving an undercover FBI agent, the Department of Justice said, He is charged with “attempted espionage for knowingly and willfully attempting to communicate, deliver, and transmit classified information relating to the national defense of the United States to an individual that Nozette believed to be an Israeli intelligence officer.”

Nozette, who was arrested in the Washington suburb of Chevy Chase, Maryland and taken into custody, could make his first court appearance Tuesday on the charge, which carries a maximum sentence of life in prison.

“The conduct alleged in this complaint is serious and should serve as a warning to anyone who would consider compromising our nation’s secrets for profit,” said David Kris, assistant attorney general for national security.

Nozette, 52, developed an experiment that fueled the discovery of water on the south pole of the moon, and previously held special security clearance at the Department of Energy on atomic materials.

In addition to stints with NASA and the Department of Energy, Nozette worked at the White House on the National Space Council under then-president George H.W. Bush in 1989 and 1990.

“From 1989 through 2006, Nozette held security clearances as high as top secret and had regular, frequent access to classified information and documents related to the US national defense,” the Justice Department said.

In early September, Nozette received a phone call from a person “purporting to be an Israeli intelligence officer, but who was in fact an undercover employee of the FBI,” the DOJ said.

“Nozette met with the UCE (undercover employee) that day and discussed his willingness to work for Israeli intelligence,” informing the agent that “he had, in the past, held top security clearances and had access to US satellite information.”

The scientist offered to “answer questions about this information in exchange for money.”

Over the next several weeks, Nozette and the undercover agent exchanged envelopes of money for answers to lists of questions about US satellite technology.

“In addition, Nozette allegedly offered to reveal additional classified information that directly concerned nuclear weaponry, military spacecraft or satellites, and other major weapons systems,” DOJ said.

FBI agents retrieved a manila envelope left by Nozette in a designated location this month that “contained information classified as both top secret and secret that concerned US satellites, early warning systems, means of defense or retaliation against large-scale attack, communications intelligence information, and major elements of defense strategy.”

In 1987, the United States sentenced Navy analyst Jonathan Pollard to life in prison for providing Israel — from May 1984 to his arrest in November 1985 — thousands of confidential military documents on US spying, particularly in Arab nations.

Israel has appealed for his release repeatedly, and in vain. And Pollard supporters in Israel and the United States have done the same for the man who since has obtained Israeli citizenship.

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