Shahin, 26, Sues Company, After Her Request for A Prayer Break Cost Her A Job

Shahin Indorewala, 26, of Woodbridge, North Virginia says her request for a prayer break cost her a job — now she’s suing for discrimination.

She was being hired for Falls Church-based Fast Trak Management, everything was going well until she asked if she could take the prayer breaks in exchange for a shorter lunch break to accommodate her practices as an observant Muslim.

She told, she had a good first job interview, and a second job interview was also going well. A manager said workers receive a 90-minute lunch break; it was at that point she mentioned her need to pray five times a day as a Muslim, and asked whether she could take two five-minute breaks during the day in exchange for taking a shorter lunch break.

The CEO, Ramses Gavilondo, said in an interview that he didn’t hire her because she “wanted to preach her religion.” He said the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission investigated and found no wrongdoing.

“We ask people to keep religion to themselves,” Gavilondo said. “I don’t see the need for religious preaching in the 21st century.”

She says in a lawsuit filed in federal court in Alexandria that the company CEO then mocked her religious headscarf and refused to hire her.

Zanah Ghalawanji, one of Indorewala’s lawyers with the Council on American-Islamic Relations, said that the case represents a clear-cut example of religious discrimination and employers are required to make reasonable accommodations for sincerely held religious beliefs unless doing so would pose an unreasonable burden on the employer. She said that five-minute breaks twice a day in an office setting impose no such burden.