Chicken Express employee sent home for refusing to remove her hijab

“Your job is your job. Your job has nothing to do with religion,” the manager says on one of the videos.

The job requires a specific uniform. [The hijab] is not a part of the uniform; you as a paid employee cannot wear it.”

Stephanae Coleman converted to Islam in 2019. During that time, a Chicken Express franchise hired her to work at the restaurant. She told them she was Muslim and would begin wearing a hijab once she received her order.

On Monday, she began wearing a hijab to work. When her manager saw it, he told her she must remove the religious head piece because it did not comply with the company’s uniform policy. As the two argued about the hijab, Stephanae decided it would be in her best interest to tape their encounter, which she originally posted on Twitter.

The manager eventually sent Ms. Coleman home for the day.

Rhett Warren, an attorney representing the Chicken Express franchisee that operates the location where Coleman is employed, told CNN that sending her home was a “mistake” and that she “is not facing discrimination for her decision to wear a headscarf or for being Muslim.”

“The manager’s decision to send Ms. Coleman home for wearing the headscarf was due to a lack of training,” Warren said. “The manager was using a strict interpretation of the company policy that does not allow derivations from the standard employee uniform, and he unfortunately did not take religious liberty into consideration.”

Coleman was paid for the hours she would have worked on Monday had she not been sent home, Warren said.


The following day, Ms. Coleman returned to work after receiving an apology from the restaurant. But, she claims to have encountered “hostile treatment from her coworkers.” She later posted on Twitter:

The Dallas/Fort Worth division of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) represents Ms. Coleman but has not filed a discrimination suit against Chicken Express at this time. CAIR will help and support Ms. Coleman’s new task in helping revise the restaurant’s handbook regarding their dress code and  “implement cultural competency training for their branch.”


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