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Professor sues university, alleging religious discrimination

Many Minnesotans have had the unpleasant experience of working under a boss with whom they just could not get along, and felt this conflict hurting their careers. Occasional clashes of personalities may be unavoidable, but when the root of the problem is unlawful employment discrimination, that is another matter.

Recently, an author and instructor at the University of Southern California sued the school and her supervisor, alleging that she had been harassed and discriminated against because of her religious and national heritage as an Iranian Jew. The author has been an adjunct professor at the University since 1999 and has published several books. She claims that despite her accomplishments, she has been repeatedly denied advancement, pressured to resign and harassed about her ethnic and religious background. The University said it has investigated her claims and not found evidence of any wrongdoing.

Both Minnesota's Human Rights Act and Title VII of the U.S. Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibit employers from discriminating against or harassing employees on the basis of their religion or national origin. If prohibited forms of discrimination played a role in an employer's decisions about matters such as hiring or firing or promoting or demoting workers, the employer may have violated the law. If the employer harassed an employee about a protected characteristic, such as religion or national origin, the employer has violated the law.

Of course, what looks like a clear-cut case of illegal discrimination to some people may not necessarily hold up under the rigors of legal procedure. It is vital that employees get help understanding how to gather evidence and prove their case. Minnesota residents who have suffered unlawful discrimination and harassment in the workplace should get help understanding how the law may apply to their situation.

Source: Jewish Journal, "Gina Nahai sues USC for discrimination," Danielle Berrin, Oct. 8, 2013

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