SOUTHFIELD — The Michigan chapter of the Council on American Islamic Relations, (CAIR-MI) a civil rights and advocacy group, filed an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission complaint against DTE Energy on behalf of Ibrahim Canales, a former employee who allegedly was forced to leave his job after attending Friday prayer for his Muslim faith.
According to CAIR-MI’s statement, Canales was allowed to attend the Friday congregational prayers when he first began his position at DTE by working extra hours every day during the week to make up for his missed time.
Two months later DTE replaced Canales’ supervisor.
CAIR-MI alleges that the new supervisor refused to allow him to leave for prayers and attempted to require him to use personal and vacation time, even though Canales was a salaried employee and met his required hours every week.
It also states that Canales later received final and mid-year evaluations from the supervisor, which affected his pay, bonuses and opportunities for advancement in the company and that the supervisor reported negative statements to other supervisors.
In a statement released by DTE Energy, the company reiterated its commitment to providing an inclusive environment for its diverse employees. “DTE Energy is an Equal Opportunity Employer and we are committed to providing an inclusive environment for our diverse workforce of more than 10,000 employees.”
“We can’t speak to the specific allegations as we have not received the charge. However, a preliminary review of records shows that Mr. Canales’ request for religious accommodation was approved and implemented. With respect to his performance, DTE does not comment on confidential HR records.” The statement read.
Canales looked for different employment due to his perceived treatment at DTE Energy and moved his family out of state for a new employment opportunity.
“Mr. Canales was asking for a reasonable religious accommodation, an accommodation that was enjoyed by many people at DTE,” said CAIR-MI staff attorney Amy Doukoure. “Yet, he was denied and punished for his requests. Nobody should have to choose between suffering in a toxic work environment or uprooting themselves and their family simply because they chose to practice their faith.”
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