According to a suit filed by a female prison guard, the male supervisor forced her to remove her hijab at the Bedford Hills Correctional Facility in Westchester County. The $8 million lawsuit stated that she was forced to defy her religious beliefs when a single male supervisor asked her to remove the religious clothing. The lawsuit filed in the federal court in White Plains said that she was taken off her payroll for seven months during a series of events.
Maureen Billings is a corrections officer at the facility. She said that her captain Paul Artuz forced her to take off the hijab during a meeting in the facility. The suit said that Artuz asked her to demonstrate to the people present in the room that it can be removed without choking her.
Her Islamic beliefs were questioned
In the Islamic faith, women are prohibited from disrobing themselves in front of men who are not their immediate family. Billings, therefore, requested for another female employee to resent while removing her hijab. The suit alleges that even though there were two other female captains on duty that day Artuz refused to bring in another female employee. The senior officials continued to torment her over the issue. She injured her knee which was deemed as a stress injury.
Billings was not allowed to return to duty for seven months following her injury when she was taken off the payroll from May 2017 till December 2017. Her suit is demanding at least $8 million in damages because of the nature of discrimination and ignorance over religious beliefs faced by the woman. New York Post said that the New York Department of Corrections and Community Supervision did not comment on the issue.
Several cases of religious intolerance
Earlier this year, a woman claimed that she was banned from wearing a hijab to work. The excuse for the ban was that they feared that she would smuggle contraband into the facility. Jalanda Calhoun, who works at Rogers State Prison in Georgia, filed a complaint against the discriminatory stances she had to face at her work place because of her religious beliefs. She had converted to Islam a few weeks prior when the facility asked her not to wear the hijab. The state's Department of Corrections does not permit her to wear the hijab.