October 25, 2018

The San Francisco Bay Area office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-SFBA), the nation’s largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization, today announced the filing of a religious discrimination complaint against Samsung on behalf of a Muslim job applicant.

According to the complaint, the Muslim job applicant interviewed with Samsung personnel at the Samsung Strategy and Innovation Center in October 2017. He participated in two consecutive interviews — the first with a Hiring Manager and Engineer, and the second with the Director of Software Engineering. During his first interview, the complainant was cautioned of the importance of the second interview. He was specifically advised of the need to impress the second interviewer, “because he makes all the decisions.”

During the second interview, the complainant was told, “This is probably going to bother you because of your background because I know Muslims don’t drink, but drinking is a big part of our culture here. The team goes out and it is super important to the team. The other director and I often go out to drink with the team until 2 a.m. and then pass out in the office and then get up at 7 and work again, and it’s important to the team, so you might be a bad fit because we get ‘silly’ when we drink and you do not drink.” The interviewer continued, “I’m not going to force you to drink, but will you have an issue?” The applicant was startled by the reference to his religion and explicit commentary that his religion would make a poor fit for the job, but responded, “No, you guys do whatever you want to do.” He was also asked about his national origin during the interview.

The day after the interview, the applicant was informed he was not selected for the position.

CAIR-SFBA is representing the complainant in his complaint to California’s Department of Fair Employment & Housing (DFEH) claiming impermissible employment discrimination by Samsung, when he was asked about his religion and national origin by one of their interviewers, and then denied a job opportunity because of his actual and perceived sincerely-held religious beliefs.

“CAIR-SFBA, along with our client, are committed to ensuring that all individuals seeking employment are treated fairly and judged based on their qualifications rather than immutable characteristics such as their religious practice, national origin and racial identity,” said CAIR-SFBA’s Civil Rights & Legal Services Coordinator Ammad Rafiqi.

“Employers have an obligation to confront workplace discrimination of all forms. CAIR-SFBA is disappointed by Samsung’s acts and inadequate response, but hopes Samsung will be accountable in ensuring the rights of all prospective and current workers are protected,” said California ChangeLawyers Fellow Jeffrey Wang.

Earlier this week, CAIR’s National office filed employment discrimination complaints on behalf of two Muslim women complaining of religious discrimination and harassment at AARP and ARCH.

CAIR has reported an unprecedented spike in bigotry targeting American Muslims and members of other minority groups since the election of Donald Trump as president.

The Washington-based organization’s recently-released 2018 Civil Rights Report, “Targeted,” showed a 17 percent increase in bias-motivated incidents against American Muslims from 2016 to 2017, and a 15 percent increase in the number of anti-Muslim hate crimes in that same time period.

Bay Area Muslims are being urged to report any bias incidents to CAIR-SFBA’s Civil Rights & Legal Services Department by visiting bit.ly/cairsfbareport.