Utah Muslim sues his ex-employer, alleges a boss said he’d be ‘cast into outer darkness’

Federal lawsuit says Cedar City car dealership denied him prayer breaks and a supervisor called him a “terrorist.”

(Wesley Player | for The Salt Lake Tribune) Allan Goodson in Cedar City, Wednesday, Aug. 19, 2020. He says he was fired from his job because of his Muslim faith, and he's suing his former employer.

A Utah man is suing a Cedar City car dealership, accusing his former employer of discriminating against him and eventually firing him because of his Muslim faith.

When Allan Goodson was hired as a mechanic at Bradshaw Chevrolet two years ago, he was a Christian. He converted to Islam a couple of months later, after which his supervisors denied his requests to take prayer breaks at work, the lawsuit says, and his colleagues began to harass him.

Goodson is suing Bradshaw Chevrolet over alleged violations of the Civil Rights Act’s Title VII, which prohibits employment discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex and national origin. The federal lawsuit was filed Monday on Goodson’s behalf in U.S. District Court in Utah by a Salt Lake City law firm, as well as the Council on American-Islamic Relations, based in Washington, D.C.

Muslims are required to pray five times daily, and two of those times fell during Goodson’s shift. While one was during his lunch break, the other wasn’t. According to the lawsuit, one of his supervisors refused his request to take breaks to pray, as well as a request to shift his work hours so he could attend an hourlong prayer meeting on Fridays.

A supervisor later used a racist epithet to refer to a Middle Eastern friend of Goodson’s, allegedly saying, “The darker your skin color, the more evil you are,” according to the lawsuit. That manager also called Goodson a “terrorist” and said “that [Goodson] was wrong for not being a Mormon and that [he] would be cast into outer darkness” in the afterlife.

When Goodson reported his colleagues’ alleged comments to another supervisor, the person said they were “just joking around.”

Mark Bradshaw, the owner of the car dealership, told The Salt Lake Tribune that the company denies all of the allegations.

Goodson filed an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission complaint against the dealership in May 2020. He was terminated shortly afterward.

“Make no mistake,” Goodson said last August, “I was fired because I am a Muslim and because I asked to pray.”

The EEOC declined to take his case, but it issued Goodson a right-to-sue letter in May 2021, giving him a 90-day window to take the matter to court.

Attorney Gadeir Abbas, with the Council on American-Islamic Relations, characterized Bradshaw Chevrolet as a “toxic” place.

“We believe that this dealership,” Abbas said in an interview, “was engaged in some of the more vulgar, base kinds of bigotry that seem to belong to a long-ago era.”