Young woman who said Chipotle assistant manager removed her hijab speaks

Local

LENEXA, Kan. (WDAF) — A teenage girl working at Chipotle said her manager pulled off her hijab at work. Now that man is fired and could face criminal charges.

It happened in July, and now the young woman is speaking out. WDAF-TV spoke with her Tuesday about how she felt violated, and the teen hopes speaking out will keep it from happening to someone else.

Chipotle in Lenexa is hiring. Recently they lost two employees. One was fired and another quit.

Areej Saifan said her assistant manager pulled her hijab off her head.

“He kept asking to see my hair,” she said. “I kept telling him to stop and no, and I just tried to ignore it. So I went back to work, and he just came behind me, pulled my scarf, and I really don’t have any idea what like would make someone do, like do that.”

It happened in July. The 19-year-old WOMAN said she immediately told her parents and the general manager. For days, she said she heard nothing back.

“He was laughing. He was laughing at it like it was something funny,” Saifan said. “When I just was shocked. I just turned around, and I was just looking at him like what just happened?”

She said one of her coworkers stood up for her at the moment and told the man never to do that again. She’s working with the Council on American-Islamic Relations in Kansas, who helped her get a lawyer and response from Chipotle.

“We need to make sure that this never happens again to anybody in her workplace,” said Moussa Elbayoumy with CAIR Kansas. “We will take whatever steps necessary. The first step was getting the legal representation to represent her, and we already filed the charge in the EEOC, the Equal Opportunity employment commission and we’ll wait for the investigation.”

Saifan also filed a report with Lenexa Police and is waiting on their investigation. She hopes her experience will let others know that it’s important to speak up if you experience discrimination in the workplace.

“I want people to understand that this is not the right thing to do,” she said. “I don’t want this to happen to me or especially anyone else. Of course, you know, it’s not only about being respectful to Muslim coworkers, to any religion, anybody, everyone has different religious beliefs and choices. And you have to respect that you have to accommodate to that.”

Chipotle fired the assistant manager and said in a statement, “we have a zero-tolerance policy for discrimination of any kind and we terminated the employee in question nearly two weeks ago following a thorough investigation.”

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