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Case 1:13-cv-02340-CMA-KMT Document 1 Filed 08/30/13 USDC Colorado Page 1 of 17

IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT

FOR THE DISTRICT OF COLORADO


Civil Action No.:

EQUAL EMPLOYMENT OPPORTUNITY COMMISSION,







v.

Plaintiff,


JETSTREAM GROUND SERVICES, INC.







Defendant.










COMPLAINT AND JURY TRIAL DEMAND

NATURE OF THE ACTION

This is an action under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended, and

Title I of the Civil Rights Act of 1991 against Defendant JetStream Grounds Services,

Inc., to correct unlawful employment practices on the basis of religion and in retaliation

for engaging in protected activities, and to provide appropriate relief to Safia Abdulle Ali,

Sahra Bashi Abdirahman, Hana Bokku, Sadiyo Hassan Jama, Amino Warsame and

other female Muslim applicants and employees at the Denver International Airport who

were adversely affected by such practices. The Equal Employment Opportunity

Commission alleges that Defendant discriminated against female Muslim applicants and

employees when it refused to hire, discharged, reduced hours, and took other adverse

measures against religiously observant female Muslim employees and failed to

accommodate their religious practices and beliefs. The EEOC further alleges that

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Defendant retaliated against female Muslim employees and applicants who engaged in

protected activity

including seeking accommodation and/or complaining about

discrimination.

JURISDICTION AND VENUE

1.

Jurisdiction of this Court is invoked pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 451, 1331, 1337,

1343 and 1345. This action is authorized and instituted pursuant to Sections

706(f)(1) and (3) of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. §§ 2000e-

5(f)(1) and (3) (“Title VII”) and Section 102 of the Civil Rights Act of 1991, 42

U.S.C. § 1981a.

2.

The employment practices alleged to be unlawful were committed within the

jurisdiction of the United States District Court for the District of Colorado.

PARTIES

3.

Plaintiff Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC” or “Commission”),

is the agency of the United States of America charged with the administration,

interpretation and enforcement of Title VII, and is expressly authorized to bring

this action by Sections 706(f)(1) and (3) of Title VII, 42 U.S.C. §§ 2000e-5(f)(1)

and (3).

4.

Defendant JetStream Ground Services,

Inc., (“JetStream”),

is a Florida

corporation.

5.

At all relevant times, Defendant has continuously been doing business in the

State of Colorado, and has continuously had at least 15 employees.

6.

At all relevant times, Defendant has continuously been an employer engaged in



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an industry affecting commerce within the meaning of Sections 701(b), (g) and

(h) of Title VII, 42 U.S.C. §§ 2000e(b), (g) and (h).

STATEMENT OF CLAIMS

Conditions Precedent

7.

More than thirty days prior to the institution of this lawsuit, Safia Abdulle Ali,

Sahra Bashi Abdirahman, Hana Bokku, Sadiyo Hassan Jama, and Amino

Warsame (“Charging Parties”), filed charges with the Commission alleging that

Defendant had discriminated against them in violation of Title VII

8.

The Colorado Civil Rights Division (“CCRD”) and EEOC each provided

Defendant with notice of the charges of discrimination.

9.

CCRD and EEOC each investigated the charges of discrimination.

10. Based on evidence adduced during the agencies’ two investigations, EEOC

issued a determination finding reasonable cause to believe that Defendant had

engaged in certain unlawful employment practices identified in the determination.

11.

The Commission’s determination included an invitation for Defendant to join the

Commission in informal methods of conference, conciliation, and persuasion in

an attempt to eliminate and remedy the alleged unlawful employment practices.

12. Defendant agreed to participate with EEOC in this informal conciliation process.

13.

The Commission and Defendant were unable to reach an agreement through the

conciliation process.

14.

The Commission sent notice to the Defendant that conciliation had failed.

15. All conditions precedent to the institution of this lawsuit have been fulfilled.



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General Allegations

16. Since at least October of 2008, Defendant Employer has engaged in unlawful

employment practices at the Denver International Airport, in violation of Sections

703(a) and 704(a) of Title VII, 42 U.S.C. §§ 2000e-2(a) and 2000e-3(a).

17. Defendant is a nation-wide corporation that offers ground services to airlines,

including cargo, freight, and mail handling, air craft maintenance, and cabin-

cleaning services.

18.

In September of 2008, Defendant registered with the Colorado Secretary of

State.

19.

In October of 2008, Defendant first assumed the contract for ground-services of

United Airlines at Denver International Airport (“DIA”).

20. Prior to October of 2008, Air Serv Corporation (“AirServ”) provided the ground

services for the United Airlines fleet at DIA.

21. Charging Parties were all employed as cabin-cleaners for AirServ before

Defendant assumed the United Airlines contract at DIA.

22.

The Charging Parties are all female employees who are immigrants from

Ethiopia and Somalia.

The Charging Parties all practice the Muslim faith.

Tenets of the Muslim faith require Muslim women to wear a head covering.

23.

24.

25. Depending on an individual’s beliefs, the Muslim faith might also require Muslim

women to wear long skirts.



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26. AirServe policies included a uniform policy.

27.

The Charging Parties and other female Muslim employees were provided a

religious dress code accommodation by AirServ so that they were allowed to

work wearing head coverings and full-length skirts.

28. During the tenure of their employment with AirServ, the Charging Parties and

other female Muslim employees, who were provided a religious accommodation

for their clothing, worked without incident or injury.

29. On or about the end of October, 2008, Defendant began to interview AirServ

employees for positions with JetStream.

In October 2008, David Norris was Defendant’s vice-president.

In October 2008, Defendant had and continues to have a uniform policy for cabin

30.

31.

cleaners.

32. Defendant’s uniform policy requires cabin-cleaners to wear company-issued

uniforms, which included, inter alia, pants and a cap with a company logo on it.

33. All of the Charging Parties wore head coverings at their interviews for

employment with Defendant.

34. Charging Parties Ali, Jama, and Warsame also wore full-length skirts at their

interviews with Defendant.

Charging Party Amino Warsame

35. Charging Party Amino Warsame worked for AirServ for almost a year and a half

before she interviewed for employment with JetStream.

36.

In October 2008, Warsame was interviewed by Norris for a position with



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Defendant.

37. During Warsame’s interview, Norris questioned her about her religious clothing.

38. Norris asked Warsame if she dressed the same way during her employment with

AirServ as she was dressed at the interview.

39. Warsame told Norris that she had worn the same kinds of clothing while working

at AirServ as she was wearing in the interview.

40. Warsame explained to Norris during her interview that she was required to cover

her hair and wear a long skirt in accordance with her religious principles.

41. Norris told Warsame that she could not dress the way she was dressed at the

interview and work for JetStream.

42. Norris told Warsame that if she did not uncover and reveal her hair, she would

not be hired to work at JetStream.

43. Because she needed the work, Warsame agreed to wear pants, but told Norris

that she could not uncover her hair.

44. Warsame complained to Norris that she felt she was being discriminated against.

45. Norris refused to hire Warsame and dismissed her from his office.

46. Several days after her interview, Warsame returned to speak with Norris.

47. When she met with Norris, she provided him a note from Denver Islamic Society

President, Ferjani Hafedh.

48.

The note was one Warsame had previously provided to AirServ to prove she

needed a religious dress code accommodation in the form of covering her hair

and wearing a long skirt.



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49.

The letter states that “according to Islamic rules girl is not allowed to wear pens

[sic] showing her body so it advised to put dress, and she has to cover her hair.

This is written based on Amino Warsame request for her job.”

50. Upon providing Norris the note from Hafedh, Warsame asked to be allowed to

work.

51. Norris refused to employ Warsame unless she removed her religious head

covering.

52. Norris did not provide Warsame a religious accommodation.

53. Norris did not discuss with Warsame any potential religious accommodation.

54. Norris did not propose or offer Warsame any potential religious accommodation.

55. Warsame was not hired by JetStream.

Charging Party Hana Bokku

56. Charging Party Hana Bokku worked for AirServ for approximately two and a half

years before she interviewed for employment with JetStream.

57. When Bokku sought work with JetStream, she was also interviewed by Norris.

58. During her interview, Norris asked Bokku whether AirServe had allowed her keep

her hair covered at work.

59. Bokku explained that she was required to cover her hair because of her faith, and

that AirServe had indeed allowed her to do so while she had been employed by

them.

60. Norris told Bokku that JetStream would not hire her because the company’s rules

prohibited her from covering her hair.



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61. Norris did not provide Bokku a religious accommodation.

62. Norris did not discuss with Bokku any potential religious accommodation.

63. Norris did not propose or offer Bokku any potential religious accommodation.

64. Bokku was not hired by JetStream.

Charging Parties Safia Abdulle Ali and Sadiyo Hassan Jama

65. Charging Parties Jama and Ali worked for AirServ for approximately two years

before they interviewed for employment with JetStream.

66. Norris interviewed Jama and Ali together.

67. During the interview, Norris asked both Jama and Ali if AirServ had allowed them

to keep their hair covered at work.

68.

Jama and Ali both answered that AirServe had allowed them to keep their hair

covered.

69. Norris also asked Jama if AirServ had allowed her to wear a skirt at work.

70.

Jama confirmed that she was allowed to work in a skirt when she worked for

AirServ.

71. Norris stated that in Florida, where Defendant is headquartered, he was not

faced with similar problems, and that none of the employees attempted to dress

like Ali and Jama were dressed during the interview.

72. Norris told Jama and Ali that the company would not allow any deviations from

the uniform.

Jama agreed to wear pants in order to keep her job.

Jama and Ali both maintained that they needed to be able to cover their hair.

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73.

74.



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75. Norris did not provide Jama or Ali a religious accommodation.

76. Norris did not discuss with Jama or Ali any potential religious accommodation.

77. Norris did not propose or offer Jama or Ali any potential

religious

accommodation.

78. Neither Jama nor Ali was hired by Jetstream.

Charging Party Sahra Bashi Abdirahman

79. Charging Party Sahra Bashi Abdirahman worked with AirServ for approximately

18 months before she interviewed with JetStream.

80. Abdirahman was the only Charging Party who was not interviewed by Norris.

81. Norris, however, saw Abdirahman on the day of the interviews and asked an

AirServ manager named “Gary” if Abdirahman covered her hair at work for

AirServ.

82. Gary told Norris that Abdirahman covered her hair, but that it was not a problem.

83. Gary told Norris that Abdirahman was a good worker.

84. After being interviewed, Abdirahman was placed on a list of employees

JetStream intended to hire.

85.

The first day Abdirahman came to work for JetStream, Norris told her that

JetStream would not employ her unless she was willing to wear pants and

uncover her hair.

Abdirahman agreed to wear pants, because she needed the work.

Abdirahman explained to Norris that according to her religion, she could not

uncover her hair in public.

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86.

87.



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88. Abdirahman demonstrated to Norris how she could tie her headscarf tight around

her head so that it was almost entirely concealed underneath the mandatory

company hat.

89. Norris refused to let Abdirahman work, telling her that even if she secured her

head scarf close to her head, JetStream would not hire her.

90. Norris did not provide Abdirahman a religious accommodation.

91. Norris did not discuss with Abdirahman any potential religious accommodation.

92. Norris did not propose or offer Abdirahman any potential

religious

accommodation.

93. Norris then terminated Abdirahman.

Defendant Denied Equal Employment Opportunities To and
Retaliated Against Other Muslim Women Who Requested a Religion
Accommodation



94. Defendant has also refused to employ other Muslim women because of their

religious practices of covering their hair and/or wearing full-length skirts.

95. Defendant has refused to accommodate the religious practices of the Charging

Parties and other Muslim women who wear head coverings and/or full-length

skirts.

96. During the time of the October 2008 interviews, several Muslim women

complained to Norris about being discriminated against because of their religion,

and/or for requesting a religious accommodation.

97. Defendant denied employment opportunities to Charging Parties and other

Muslim women because of their religious beliefs and practices.



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98. Defendant retaliated against Charging Parties and other Muslim women who

requested accommodation for their religious beliefs and/or who complained

about discrimination when they were denied an accommodation.





FIRST CLAIM FOR RELIEF: RELIGIOUS DISPARATE TREATMENT

[Religious Discrimination -- 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-2(a)]

99.

The allegations contained in the forgoing are hereby incorporated by reference.

100. Since at least September, 2008, Defendant has engaged in unlawful employment

practices at Denver International Airport, Colorado, in violation of Section 703(a)

of Title VII, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-2(a) by denying equal employment opportunities

to female Muslim employees and applicants because of their bona fide religious

beliefs regarding dress requirements.

101. Charging Parties and other women who are observant Muslims and dress in

conformance with their religious mandate were subject to degrading comments

about their appearances and dress.

102. Non-Muslim female employees and applicants were not subject to similar

comments about their appearance or dress.

103. Defendant denied employment to the Charging Parties and other female Muslim

employees and applicants because of their religious practices of covering their

hair and/or wearing full-length skirts.

104. The effect of the practices complained of above has been to deprive Charging

Parties and other aggrieved individuals of equal employment opportunities and

otherwise adversely affect their employment status because of their religious



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beliefs.

105. The unlawful employment practices complained of above were and are

intentional.

106. The unlawful employment practices complained of above were done with malice

or with reckless indifference to the federally protected rights of Charging Parties

and other aggrieved female Muslim applicants and employees.



SECOND CLAIM FOR RELIEF: RELIGIOUS ACCOMMODATION

[Failure to Accommodate -- 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-2(a)]

107. The allegations contained in the forgoing are hereby incorporated by reference.

108. Since at least September, 2008, Defendant has engaged in unlawful employment

practices at Denver International Airport in violation of Section 703(a) of Title VII,

42 U.S.C. § 2000e-2(a) by failing to reasonably accommodate the religious

beliefs and/ or practices of female Muslim employees and applicants.

109. Defendant’s uniform policy for cabin cleaners required employees who are cabin

cleaners to wear pants and a logoed cap.

110. Defendant’s uniform policy for cabin cleaners conflicts with the religious practice

of Charging Parties and other Muslim women who wear head coverings and/or

full-length skirts.

111. Defendant refused to provide any religious accommodation to eliminate the

conflict between Defendant’s uniform policy for cabin cleaners and the religious

practices of Charging Parties and other Muslim women who wore head coverings



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and/or full-length skirts.

112. Defendant refused to allow female Muslim applicants and employees to wear

head coverings as a religious accommodation.

113. Defendant refused to allow female Muslim applicants and employees to wear full-

length skirts as a religious accommodation.

114. The effect of the practices complained of above has been to deprive Charging

Parties and other aggrieved individuals of equal employment opportunities and

otherwise adversely affect their employment status because of bona fide

religious beliefs and practices.

115. The unlawful employment practices complained of above were and are

intentional.

116. The unlawful employment practices complained of above were done with malice

or with reckless indifference to the federally protected rights of Charging Parties

and other aggrieved female Muslim applicants and employees.



THIRD CLAIM: RETALIATION

[Retaliation -- 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-3]

117. The allegations contained in the forgoing are hereby incorporated by reference.

118. Since at least September, 2008, Defendant has engaged in unlawful employment

practices at Denver International Airport in violation of Section 704 of Title VII, 42

U.S.C. § 2000e-3 by retaliating against female Muslim employees and applicants

who engaged in the protected activity.



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119. Charging Parties and other Muslim women engaged in protected activity by

requesting

religious accommodation and/or complaining about

religious

discrimination.

120. After Charging Parties and other Muslim women

requested

religious

accommodation and/or complained about religious discrimination, they were

subjected to actions that would dissuade a reasonable person from engaging in

protected conduct.

121.

In particular, Defendant reduced work hours, changed schedules, discharged,

and/or refused to hire Charging Parties and other Muslim women who requested

religious accommodation and/or complained about religious discrimination.

122. The effect of the practices complained of above has been to deprive Charging

Parties and other aggrieved female Muslim applicants and employee of equal

employment opportunities and otherwise adversely affect their employment

status because they engaged in protected activity.

123. The unlawful employment practices complained of above were and are

intentional.

124. The unlawful employment practices complained of above were done with malice

or with reckless indifference to the federally protected rights of Charging Parties

and other aggrieved female Muslim applicants and employees.









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PRAYER FOR RELIEF

Wherefore, the Commission respectfully requests that this Court:

A. Grant a permanent injunction enjoining Defendant, its officers, successors,

assigns, and all persons in active concert or participation with it, from engaging in

any employment practice which discriminates on the basis of religion or retaliates

against employees for complaining about discrimination or requesting religious

accommodation, in violation of Title VII.

B. Order Defendant to institute and carry out policies, practices, and programs

which provide equal employment opportunities for women, Muslims, and

employees who engage in protected activity, and which eradicate the effects of

its past and present unlawful employment practices.

C. Order Defendant to make whole Safia Abdulle Ali, Sahra Bashi Abdirahman,

Hana Bokku, Sadiyo Hassan Jama, Amino Warsame and other aggrieved

Muslim women by providing appropriate back-pay with prejudgment interest, in

amounts to be determined at trial, and other affirmative relief, including but not

limited to reinstatement with all attendant rights and benefits, or front-pay in lieu

thereof.

D. Order Defendant to make whole Safia Abdulle Ali, Sahra Bashi Abdirahman,

Hana Bokku, Sadiyo Hassan Jama, Amino Warsame and other aggrieved

Muslim women by providing compensation for past and future compensatory

losses resulting from the unlawful practices complained of in the paragraphs

above, including emotional pain, suffering, inconvenience, mental anguish, loss



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of enjoyment of life and humiliation, in amounts to be determined at trial.

E. Order Defendant to make whole Safia Abdulle Ali, Sahra Bashi Abdirahman,

Hana Bokku, Sadiyo Hassan Jama, Amino Warsame and other aggrieved

Muslim women by providing compensation for past and future pecuniary losses

resulting from the unlawful employment practices described above.

F. Order Defendant to pay punitive damages for its unlawful employment practices

done with malicious or reckless disregard for the federally protected rights of

Charging Parties and other aggrieved Muslim women, in amounts to be

determined at trial.

G. Grant such further relief as the Court deems necessary and proper in the public

interest.

H. Award the Commission its costs of this action.

JURY TRIAL DEMAND

The Commission requests a jury trial on all questions of fact raised by its

complaint.

Dated: August 30, 2013.













Respectfully submitted,

P. David Lopez
General Counsel

U.S. EQUAL EMPLOYMENT
OPPORTUNITY COMMISSION
1801 L Street, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20507



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MARY JO O’NEILL
Regional Attorney
Phoenix District Office

RITA BYRNES KITTLE
Supervisory Trial Attorney
Denver Field Office

/s/ Iris Halpern
IRIS HALPERN
Trial Attorney
EEOC Denver Field Office
303 E. 17th Ave., Suite 510
Denver, CO 80203
Telephone: 303-866-1347
Fax: 303-866-1374
Email: [email protected]



Attorneys for Plaintiff
EQUAL EMPLOYMENT
OPPORTUNITY COMMISSION












PLEASE NOTE:
For the purposes of service upon the EEOC, it is sufficient that pleadings,
notices, and court documents be served upon the Trial Attorneys.



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