Philadelphia Muslim sues Whole Foods claiming religious discrimination

Whole Foods MarketA Philadelphia man says his request for religious accommodations led to open hostility from his co-workers and his eventual termination from a local Whole Foods grocery store, according to a federal suit filed June 13 at the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Philadelphia.

Robert Greene seeks punitive and compensatory damages for alleged violations of his civil rights, including discrimination, retaliatory practices and refusal to accommodate. The plaintiff also seeks an injunction against Whole Foods for condoning such actions.

According to the complaint, Greene worked at the Whole Foods store located in Glen Mills, Pa., from April 2012 to October 2012 in the prepared foods department. During that time, Greene had to make one of his required five prayers a day, a tenet of the Muslim religion. He claims there had never been an issue with his prayers while working in the prepared food section.

In October 2012, the suit says, Greene had been transferred to the meat department. When he informed his new supervisors of his need for time set aside for his prayers, Greene was met with derision and discrimination, according to the court documents.

One manager said, “This is not a mosque,” and, “this is not the time and place,” according to the claim. When Greene brought the matter to the next level of management, no follow-up investigation was ever conducted, court documents say. In fact, according to the suit, Greene experienced increased hostility before finally getting terminated from his position under false pretenses.

Greene is represented by attorney Ari Karpf of Karpf, Karpf & Cerutti in Bensalem, Pa.

The federal case ID number is 2:14-cv-03535-SD.

Pennsylvania Record. 16 June 2014