A Utah man has filed a federal employment complaint against a Cedar City car dealership, alleging that his supervisors and colleagues harassed and discriminated against him after he converted to Islam.
When Allan Goodson was hired as a mechanic at Bradshaw Chevrolet one year ago, he was a Christian. He said soon after, he heard others at the dealership disparage nonwhite or non-Christian people, but in particular Muslims. Goodson said because of that, he started researching Islam. He said the teachings made sense to him, and he converted.
“I felt amazing being able to pray with other believers,” Goodson said. “It was one of the greatest experiences of my life.”
Goodson said the trouble at work started when he asked for accommodations to pray.
An Equal Employment Opportunity Commission complaint is the first step in either an investigation and mediation, or a lawsuit, if the EEOC provides Goodson a right-to-sue letter. Goodson came forward with the allegations Wednesday during a news conference with attorneys from Washington, D.C.-based Council on American–Islamic Relations.
Mark Bradshaw, the owner of Bradshaw Chevrolet, told The Salt Lake Tribune he’d not yet seen the complaint but said no such allegations had been made against the company before.
Muslims pray five times a day, and Goodson said two of those times fell during work hours. While one was during his lunch break, one wasn’t.
Goodson said his supervisors didn’t allow him the five- to 10-minute break to pray, telling him it wouldn’t “be a good idea to do here.” Later, Goodson said that co-workers called his Muslim friends the N-word and made racist comments toward him.
“I was asked whether I blew up any buildings over the weekend, like on a Monday morning,” Goodson said.
Goodson said he was fired in June. “Make no mistake,” he said, “I was fired because I am a Muslim and because I asked to pray.”
Goodson said he is sharing his experience and filing a complaint so that other Muslims feel like they can do the same.
Attorney Gadeir Abbas characterized Goodson’s case as “extreme” and atypical for Utah, where most residents are members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and, he said, see some affinity with their Muslim neighbors.