Worker says he was fired from supermarket chain because he is Muslim
Glenn Mack Jr. says he prayed by a dumpster to keep his faith quiet.
November 9th, 2011
12:18 PM ET

Worker says he was fired from supermarket chain because he is Muslim

By Sarah Hoye, CNN

Philadelphia (CNN)– A former Whole Foods Market employee says he was fired because he is Muslim.

Glenn Mack Jr. told reporters Tuesday that he experienced harassment by his supervisors because of his Islamic faith, resulting in his termination.

A spokeswoman for the natural-food supermarket chain said the company denied Mack's allegations.

Mack, 24, started working for Whole Foods in 2008. He was terminated in February 2011 for absenteeism, said his lawyer, Amara Chaudhry, with the Philadelphia chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations.

He filed a complaint with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in March, Chaudhry said, adding she will file an amended complaint in the next few weeks.

Whole Foods Market spokeswoman Kate Lowery said the company "cannot give out details about current or former team members due to privacy, but we deny these allegations."

"It's well known that Whole Foods values and celebrates diversity," Lowery said, adding, "We have a zero-tolerance discrimination policy, zero tolerance."

Mack said he had been well-liked at the Whole Foods location on Pennsylvania Avenue in Philadelphia. He said he was the community service liaison and had been chosen to run the employees' assistance fund designed to help "team members in need." Mack added he was also selected to meet Whole Foods Market co-founder and CEO John Mackey.

The problems began, he said, after his supervisors learned he was using his approved vacation time for Hajj, the Islamic pilgrimage to the holy city of Mecca in Saudi Arabia during the last month of the Islamic calendar.

Hajj represents the fifth and final "pillar" of Islam. Every Muslim who is physically and financially capable is expected to make the pilgrimage once in their lifetime.

Mack said he had kept his Islamic faith a secret after overhearing comments that disturbed him. He said he requested time for the vacation two months in advance of the November 2010 trip. Prior to his vacation, his supervisors gave him a choice of keeping his job or going on the trip, he said.

Mack was downgraded from full-time employment to part-time employee upon returning from the pilgrimage and before being terminated, he said.

While working, he said he was followed by supervisors and watched when he went to pray in a storage room, and so began to complete his daily prayers outdoors near a trash dumpster.

"The fact that Glenn felt pressured or compelled to pray in the location that he did is not insignificant. A Muslim wouldn't do so unless under compelling circumstances or in a state of duress," Chaudhry, his attorney, said.

Whole Foods works with its employees to accommodate special requests and has an open-door policy, Lowery said, adding the company has many Muslim employees in the Philadelphia and Mid-Atlantic regions.

"We are looking at this from every angle possible," Lowery said.

A formal lawsuit has not been filed; however there is a pending matter before the EEOC and that has been cross-filed with the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission, Chaudhry said. Mack is seeking reinstatement and compensation for his termination, plus mandatory tolerance training for employees, Chaudhry said.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Belief • Islam

soundoff (124 Responses)
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  6. Uranus Butter

    He was probably fired for that scraggly beard. Leave it to the blacks to find some other way not to work and get paid.

    December 5, 2011 at 12:58 pm |
    • richard smith

      Why would an employer fire anyone whose satanic religion preaches hate of Isreal and America. Go back home fool!!!!!!

      December 6, 2011 at 8:46 pm |
    • wasim

      there is no body in usa who hired muslims,and from where he got fired ,it is hard to breath in usa like muslim,less than minimum wage is fix for muslims, more holy more less pay and more hard work

      February 8, 2012 at 2:41 am |
    • bobcat

      I spoke to a rabbi about Isreal once, he called it the greatest threat Judaism has ever faced. I have never met a jew younger than 30 who supports Israel. Are jews Satanic too?

      February 8, 2012 at 3:02 am |
  7. Mortran

    So what? I don't get it. The whole idea about being an employer is deciding who you employ and who not. If an employer decides to discriminate against a particular kind of people, so be it. It is his decision, because it is his company. US companies are not state owned yet, and there can be no law that tells a business owner with whom he makes a working contract and with whom not. It is his money the salary is paid with, not government money. If we can't decide anymore what we do with our own money, then it is called communism.

    December 5, 2011 at 12:56 pm |
    • ljdarten

      that's a fine viewpoint until people start trying to stop you from practicing YOUR religion. there are laws in place to prevent this sort of thing that have been around a long time.

      December 20, 2011 at 2:10 pm |
    • customer

      Yes.. and it is good to let the customers know what kind of employers they would like to buy things from! This is a country with intelligent people.. let them decide which kind of businesses to support

      January 1, 2012 at 4:49 pm |
  8. ariel

    yeah right.......looking for loot the fast and "easy" way.

    December 5, 2011 at 11:16 am |
  9. Newarks finest

    America. The caring perfect beautiful empathetic first amendment FIRST amendment enforcing tolerant nation. These characteristics are clearly displayed by you the fine example of american citizens.

    November 13, 2011 at 11:08 am |
  10. tallulah13

    Allah Akbar Brother greeting from Muslim brotherhood

    November 11, 2011 at 4:06 pm |
    • tallulah13

      Perfect case in point about why we should demand proof before we believe. The person who posted this used what has been my long-time screen name. People might take it at face value, and believe that this person is someone who they are not. This person writes as though they are stating my opinion, much like any glib preacher can claim to be speaking the word of god. This is why I demand proof.

      Besides, I much prefer saying "Admiral Akbar."

      November 11, 2011 at 7:03 pm |
    • *frank*

      Wait! Is tarp!

      November 11, 2011 at 7:10 pm |
  11. Concerned America

    It is much more simple than you can imagine folks....in every local mosque across America, muslims are being taught something called "soft jihad" which is learning how to exploit the opportunities muslims have to litigate, and defraud the American system with great ease. I reported some 14 months ago that there would be sharp increases in the number of muslim suits in the employment, and student sectors, based on the year I spent undercover in a local seattle mosque. Here, muslims were told that they should "fully utilize" the legal system to bring forth the changes (conquest) that the muslim community could use to further their stranglehold, and jihad, on Americans. Well, as you can see, it is working. There is NO reason to allow muslims this opportunity. Mosques should be banned in our society before it is too late. Already, public sympathy, empathy for muslims is nealy stagnating our judicial system, and we mean to stop this dead at banthemosque dot com. BAN ALL ISLAMIC CENTERS NOW!

    November 11, 2011 at 1:36 pm |
    • RightTurnClyde

      Unfortunately employee lawsuits against employer companies together with union featherbedding and gauging are sending corporations OUT of the U.S. (and to some extent Europe) and TO India and China (and slightly tto NAFTA). JOBS continue to VANISH. And they will continue to vanish (many studies concur). The U.S. economy is foreseen as increasingly sluggish well into the future (fewer and fewer jobs). That translates to massive joblessness (have-nots). So the U.S. government is to blame because they could reduce the burden of litigation and collective bargains, but as you saw in the case of Boeing (or rail roads) they do not want to reduce the burden. So unemployment is unofficially 20% and higher (even 50%) (they do not count long-term unemployed)

      November 11, 2011 at 1:52 pm |
    • RightTurnClyde

      Until Americans wake up to certain realities their life styles will continue to decline AND there is no **necessity** for it to ever improve. Yes unions made a difference in the early part of the 20th century (but empowered by the NLRB have become bandits .. so have traffic cops with radar guns) Any good thing can be abused. Union dominated industries that have disappeared in the U.S. include maritime (merchant marine), steel, electronics, automotive, U.S. airlines (Eastern, PAn Am, Banff, TWA, Continental, Delta, AA, Ozark, North Central, Air Cal, Pacific Air West, Hughes AL, ..more).. brick masons, certain sectors of mining. Every dollar from a primary job turns over in community approximately 10 times before leaving the community. So one primary job affects ten jobs (or more) [understand then - so the foundry employee pays the gas station and the gas station pays the laundry service and the laundry service pays groomers and the groomers pay house keepers or child care .. the dollar turns over and over ten times ..]

      November 11, 2011 at 2:17 pm |
    • tallulah13

      America was founded on Islamic principles, how dare you challenge this?

      November 11, 2011 at 4:09 pm |
    • J.W

      Hmmm tallulah I though you were an atheist. I am surprised you have referred to yourself as a Muslim in a few posts today.

      November 11, 2011 at 4:12 pm |
    • tallulah13

      Hi, J.W. I was at the store buying groceries when that was posted. It was just that silly troll again, the one who doesn't even know that Tallulah is a girl's name. I would hope that I post often enough here that anyone who does the same will realize that this silly fake isn't me. If not, there's really nothing I can do about it. Liars will be liars and we can't be everywhere to protect our good names from losers who have no ideas of their own, or are too ashamed to state them.

      November 11, 2011 at 6:59 pm |
    • wasim

      hi ,
      listen america when it is about islam ,than i am or was your judge maker president maker economy maker force maker etc well there is no happiness in it ,founder type law maker but you people do not deserve to be good ,don't worry i play worldwide france swiss russ eng uk pol etc any where you want me to come i will be there ,i learn to hate my self in usa because i am muslim and the next is infidels nation

      February 8, 2012 at 2:49 am |
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About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.