A former employee at a Philadelphia Whole Foods market claims he was harassed and fired for being Muslim. Glenn Mack and his lawyer at the Philadelphia Chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations are filling a complaint with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunities Commission.
A spokeswoman has denied any wrongdoing by the company.
Mack said he was a stellar employee at Whole Foods near the Ben Franklin Parkway. Last year, he was appointed as a “community service liaison.”
Mack said the change followed a request in 2011 for 18 days off to complete the hajj to Mecca. Though he put in the request months in advance, he was told he shouldn’t expect to keep his job if he went on the pilgrimage.
When he returned to work, Mack said managers harassed him and monitored him through security cameras while he took breaks to pray. He said he ended up praying near a Dumpster in the back of the store.
“I worked at the store for over a year, so I would maybe pray two shifts a day here, so you can imagine I maybe prayed 500-plus times. When I came back it was, you know, where is he going?” Mack said. “Maybe they thought I was some kind of fanatic or something because I went over to Mecca.”
Mack was terminated a few months after his return from the hajj, the pilgrimage to Mecca required of every Muslim who can afford it.
Whole Foods representatives would not comment on specifics, such as why Mack was fired, but deny any wrongdoing. The spokeswoman said the company has “a zero-tolerance discrimination policy,” and that it makes every effort to grant vacation requests.
Mack is asking for his job back, lost wages and that Whole Foods implement new training about respecting employees.