Muslim Woman Claims Religious Discrimination at Boca Gas Station

Woman says she was refused service at station because of her religious attire

By Brian Hamacher and Ari Odzer
|  Wednesday, Feb 1, 2012  |  Updated 7:19 PM EDT
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Woman says she was refused service at station because of her religious attire.

Woman says she was refused service at station because of her religious attire.

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A South Florida Muslim woman claims she was discriminated against at a Boca Raton gas station because of her religious attire.

La-Fleur Mohamed claims she was trying to fill up her car at the Chevron station at 19345 State Road 7 when she was denied service by a cashier in October.

"I said 'Hi, can I please have $20 on pump number one?' and she took my money," Mohamed said, during a news conference Wednesday at the South Florida chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations.

Mohamed, who was wearing a niqab, or face veil, claims the female cashier refused to give her gas.

"She said, 'you can't come in here dressed like that,' I was very shocked," Mohamed said. "I said' this is my religious right' and she said 'well, I need to see your face.'"

Mohamed said she asked the cashier again for gas and the woman "just threw my money back at me." She left the store after she said she was "humiliated."

In a statement released Wednesday, Chevron said they're taking Mohamed's allegations seriously and conducted a thorough investigation.

"We spoke with our employee cashier and reviewed the store surveillance tape. The incident occurred within a few days of Halloween – a time when retailers are prone to increased theft from persons wearing masks and other facial coverings," Chevron spokesman Brent Tippen said in a statement. "In light of this concern, we acknowledge that our employee did ask Ms. Mohamed to remove her veil for security purposes; when she refused, she was denied service.

CAIR officials say they've submitted a complaint to the Florida Commission on Human Rights, calling it religious discrimination.

"This type of religious discrimination is prohibited by state and federal law," said CAIR-SFL Executive Director Nezar Hamze.

"We fully believe that our employee acted without the intent to violate Ms. Mohamed’s religious principles and any suggestion that discrimination is acceptable at Chevron is completely false," Tippen said. "Chevron employs 60,000 people from countries across the globe. Our Human Rights policy requires that we treat all people with respect and dignity.

"Regardless, we regret the misunderstanding. We have apologized twice to Ms. Mohamed and encouraged our employees to be more aware of potential diversity issues."

Mohamed, who came to the United States from the Caribbean in the 80s, said she converted to Islam 12 years ago.

"I'm a very polite person, I always say hi to everyone I see," she said.

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