Don't lose your head (scarves)

Two Michigan Muslim women allege McDonald's refused to employee them because they wore the hijab. The kicker? It was a halal McDonald's.

Published July 28, 2008 5:30PM (EDT)

Hold onto your hats (or head scarves, as the case may be): This one 's a doozie. Two Michigan Muslim women are alleging that McDonald 's refused to employ them because they both wore a hijab. The best part: It was a halal McDonald 's. That 's right. The restaurant is one of only two McDonald's in the country that serve meat slaughtered in the religiously correct way, but it refuses to employ women who dress in the way they deem religiously correct.

You could make the argument that McDonald 's was acting on principle, out of concern that these women didn 't want to wear head scarves and were being forced to suppress expression of their sexuality, but my guess is, it just didn't want two employees who looked … well, you know, so Muslim to serve in one of its restaurants, even though the restaurant in question catered to Muslims. (The flap took place in Dearborn, Mich., the American city with the highest Muslim population.)

A woman's religious choice (and, for that matter, anyone's religious choice) shouldn't stop her from getting a job, unless it's clearly going to prevent the prospective employee from doing her job effectively. In this particular case, the women were probably more qualified than other applicants; given that they were observant, they probably had a better hold on the laws of halal. And in the unlikely event that this rejection somehow came out of a protective concern for the women who wanted jobs, I say this: If you want to empower women, don't keep them out of the workforce.

By Nathalie Gorman

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