KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — A Muslim woman is suing Walmart, claiming managers at a Knoxville store discriminated against her and then retaliated when she complained.
The Knoxville News Sentinel reports the lawsuit was filed this week in federal court in Nashville by Fadumo Sardeye. It says the Somali native spent 15 years working at a Walmart in Memphis without problems.
According to the suit, she transferred to a Knoxville store in 2014 after she moved to be closer to her daughters. Managers at that store initially denied a request for vacation during Muslim holidays and later demanded she show where in the Quran it said she could not touch pork products or alcohol.
Walmart said in an email, the company has not been served with the complaint but intends to defend itself in court.
"We do not tolerate discrimination or retaliation. Ms. Sardeye was terminated for repeatedly violating our attendance policy," reads the statement from National Media Relations Director LeMia Jenkins.
The lawsuit describes Sardeye as a devout Muslim who believes her religion prohibits her from consuming or handling pork products or alcohol and requires her to take off work to observe religious holidays.
When she complained to the corporate office about her treatment at the Knoxville store, managers began reducing her hours and requiring her to work alone, the lawsuit states. Later, Sardeye was repeatedly told to work one shift despite being scheduled for a different shift in the computer system. She was fired in 2017 for attendance issues related to that discrepancy.
Sardeye does not have a high school diploma and was unable to find comparable work in Knoxville, the lawsuit states. She moved to Nashville where she could live with friends and take high school equivalency classes to improve her employment options.
Sardeye is seeking an unspecified amount in damages, including back pay and lost wages.
Information from: Knoxville News Sentinel, http://www.knoxnews.com