Clinic Apologizes for Telling Muslim Doctor She Can’t Wear Headscarf

Monday, November 02, 2009

DALLAS  —  A suburban Dallas medical clinic has apologized to a Muslim doctor for telling her during a job interview that she would not be allowed to wear her headscarf while at work.

Dr. Hena Zaki of Plano said Friday that she was shocked when officials at CareNow, which operates 22 clinics in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, told her in person and later by e-mail that a no-hat policy extended to her hijab.

Zaki had been on a tour of a CareNow clinic in Allen, Texas, two weeks ago when she said the regional medical director told her he didn’t want her to be surprised about the policy during orientation.

“He interrupted the interview and said he didn’t want me to take this the wrong way,” Zaki said. “Like an FYI.”

Zaki demanded an apology and a change in CareNow’s policies to accommodate expressions of religious belief — “whether it be a turban or facial hair.”

On Friday, CareNow President Tim Miller told the Associated Press: “I would apologize for any misunderstanding, definitely … but I don’t really feel like there is anything that we did that is wrong and our policy is wrong.”

The next day, as reported by MyFoxDallas/Fort Worth, Miller wrote in a statement:

“We apologize to Dr. Zaki for the misunderstanding. We will clarify our policy, and will continue our ongoing sensitivity training.”

“Care Now has made religious accommodations for employees in the past,” he said, adding that the company is interested in “sitting down with Dr. Zaki and discussing a job.”

CareNow says it does not discriminate on the basis of race, sex, religion or national origin when making employment decisions. The Civil Rights Act requires companies to make accommodations for employees’ religious beliefs.

Zaki, who’s searching for her first job after recently finishing her residency at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, has worn her headscarf since age 14 and said other places she’s worked have not had a problem with it.

“It’s not a hat,” she said. “It’s not sports memorabilia.”

Click here for more from MyFoxDallas/Fort Worth.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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