Muslim physicians report high workplace discrimination

National surveys conducted by Zogby and the Pew Research Center have indicated that Americans have negative views of Muslims more than any other religious group. For Muslim physicians in Wisconsin, this could translate into workplace discrimination, according to a University of Chicago study that collected responses from 255 Muslim American physicians about their perception of religious discrimination on the job.

Almost half of the physicians reported that they believed their work was evaluated more rigorously than the work of their non-Muslim colleagues. Close to 25 percent of those surveyed indicated that they had been passed over for promotions because of their religious identity. Overt displays of religiosity such as the performance of ritual prayers or wearing traditional female headscarves did not appear to increase discrimination. Rather, the perception of discrimination remained rooted in the fact of being Muslim. People who considered their religion important to their lives reported an increased level of discrimination regardless of whether they displayed their religious identity prominently.

The John Templeton Foundation funded the study in an attempt to judge the extent of workplace discrimination encountered by Muslims even in respected health care positions. About 5 percent of physicians nationwide practice the Muslim religion.

Federal law protects people from religious discrimination in the workplace. If a person experiences a violation of this basic employee right, then legal action against the employer might be possible. Lawsuits arising from workplace discrimination often make claims for lost wages or seek a reinstatement to a position if a wrongful termination occurred. An attorney who has experience with these types of employment law matters can provide guidance in the proper method of initiating such a claim.

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