Ivy League univ. faces $250K fine for not allowing Muslim staffer to pray multiple times

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NEW YORK CITY, NEW YORK — Columbia University could be fined up to $250,000 by New York City’s Commission on Human Rights after a former employee, who is Muslim, accused the school’s chaplain of not letting her take an ample amount of prayer breaks during the holy month of Ramadan.

Columbia University Chaplain Jewelnel Davis, a Christian, is being accused of discrimination based on religion after she allegedly did not let the employee work different hours during Ramadan and punished the worker for taking five prayer breaks a day, the Columbia Daily Spectator reported.

The complaint claims that Chaplain Davis provided similar religious accommodations for staff members of other religions, but the Muslim employee was reprimanded for taking multiple breaks and saw her workload increase.

The chaplain’s staff consists of six advisers for Christian students, three for Jewish students, and one each for Buddhists and “ethical humanists,” the College Fix reported.

The ex-employee also claims that Chaplain Davis said she “never had someone who works for me who takes so many breaks,” the Daily Spectator reported.

The chaplain was exonerated in an internal Columbia University investigation. Not happy with the results, the former staff member filed a human rights complaint with New York City’s Commission on Human Rights.

In addition to being fined $250,000, Columbia University could be forced to reform its policies regarding the accommodation of employees’ religious traditions. The Ivy League school’s current employee policy will make religious accommodations only if they don’t pose an “undue hardship” for the university, the College Fix reports.

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