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Columbia faces $250,000 fine for telling Muslim employees not to take so many breaks

When Columbia University’s internal investigation of its chaplain for religious discrimination came up empty, an ex-employee went to the government.

Now the Ivy League institution is facing fines up to $250,000 from New York City’s Commission on Human Rights and “could be ordered to reform its internal policies on religious accommodations,” the Columbia Daily Spectator reports.

A former Muslim employee accused University Chaplain Jewelnel Davis, a Christian who has led the office for two decades, of not letting the employee work earlier shifts during Ramadan and punishing the employee for taking five breaks a day to pray in keeping with Muslim practice.

Davis allegedly gave “similar accommodations” for employees of other faiths. Her office employs six advisers for Christians, three for Jews and one each for Buddhism and “ethical humanism.”

MORE: Yale chaplain resigns after blaming Israel for Europe’s antisemitism

A Muslim adviser to be funded by an anonymous donor was announced this spring after years of complaints from Muslim students, the Daily reported then.

Davis allegedly told the employee no one else “takes so many breaks,” a conversation verified by “two other current and former members” of Davis’s staff to the Daily.

Columbia policy says it will make religious accommodations if they don’t impose an “undue hardship” on the university – a factor that could actually endanger it more than if Columbia didn’t accommodate religious practices at all, employment attorney Larry Carey said.

Read the article.

MORE: Tufts is first to put ‘humanist’ chaplain on its payroll

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