A growing number of fashion runways and department stores promote the hijab as the latest “chic” thing to wear, a “fashionable identity symbol.” The buying power of fast-growing Muslim communities in the West is being used by Islamist to entice designers to present the “latest trend” with models who wear “covered-up clothes, heads in the swathing scarves.”
The power of the Islamist purse, supported by politically correct media and progressive identity propaganda, also helps to promote the hijab at many workplaces, even those with strict dress code banning any religious symbol.
The hijab is forbidden throughout the air travel industry (except in Saudi Arabia; Iran; and Aceh, Indonesia). Nonetheless, it has become a powerful tool for shakedowns by Islamist groups masquerading as “civil rights” activists in Europe and the United States.
Such Islamist groups are using lawfare to intimidate and extort Western industries, institutions, and private companies. Their objective is clear: force acceptance of Islamic customs, even though they contradict secular, globally accepted industry standards and corporate policies. These groups have been targeting U.S. aviation and aerospace firms.
Taking advantage of Western democratic systems, well-funded entities such as the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) are constantly attempting to impose Islamic religious values and practices on the West, severely undermining freedom of speech and intimidating citizens. Consequently, people fearing backlash and false accusations often choose to not speak up, even when their own safety is imperiled. Lawfare has proven to be a useful weapon.
But not against Patrick Epps, owner of EPPS Aviation, a family-owned company at Atlanta’s Peachtree Airport. EPPS Aviation adheres to a strict employee dress code, which bans wearing any religious garb. The company’s policy reflects standards observed throughout the international aviation sector. Throughout EPPS Aviation’s fifty-two years of operation, employees complied with the company dress code as a condition of employment – that is, until June 2015, when a female Muslim employee – who had willingly observed the FBO’s dress code for twelve years – suddenly demanded the “right” to wear a hijab. As the company’s front-desk customer service representative, she was the face of EPPS Aviation, the first person to greet transient pilots and their passengers.
When first hired as a customer service representative by EPPS in 2003, Camara Aissatou, a Muslim immigrant from Senegal, accepted the company’s dress code policy. But in February 2015, she requested and was denied the privilege of wearing a hijab at work. Patrick Epps, the company’s owner, refused on grounds that “wearing a hijab at the front desk violated the dress code applicable to CSRs [and] the company could have lost business by plaintiff wearing a hijab at the front counter when no one else in the industry allowed it.”
However, trying to accommodate a good employee’s desire to wear religious garb at work, Epps offered Aissatou “a non-frontline accounting position, where she would not be required to wear a uniform.” She would continue to receive the same pay, work schedule, and benefits that she had as a CSR. She rejected the transfer and was terminated.
Soon, Epps received two letters from the Georgia branch of CAIR, claiming that EPPS Aviation was violating Ms. Aissatou’s civil rights by refusing to accommodate her religious preferences. Included was a brochure spelling out Muslim practices and an offer to “mediate.” Epps ignored the CAIR missives. On November 14, 2016, the company was sued by Ms. Camara for violation of civil rights, religious discrimination, and retaliatory discharge. CAIR was assisting her.
Patrick Epps, a proud American and former U.S. Air Force pilot, refused to be blackmailed by CAIR’s blatant extortion attempt. He fought back. On August 22, 2017, after EPPS Aviation had spent more than $100,000 in legal fees, U.S. Magistrate Judge Walter E. Johnson ruled in favor of EPPS Aviation.
Americans should thank Patrick Epps and follow in his footsteps.
*This commentary was published in American Thinker, on February 28, 2018.