Jordanian Woman Is Fired After Refusing to Cover Her Free-Flowing Hair

A Christian Jordanian woman named Vivian Salameh is suing her former employer, the Dubai Islamic Bank, for arbitrary dismissal after she was fired a week ago for refusing to comply with her company's dress code, which required her to wear a headscarf that would cover all her hair except for her hairline. Salameh, who had been an assistant manager of corporate operations with the bank, objected to wearing the headscarf on the grounds that a) she never had before and b) doing so would violate her religious beliefs.

According to the New York Daily News, Salameh had previously worked for Jordan's Industrial Development Bank for 25 years before it was acquired in 2010 by the Dubai Islamic Bank. Her new employer required a uniform dress code for its employees, which includes for female employees waist-to-heel length skirts and head covers, both of which aim to reflect the "conservative Muslim traditions and values" that the Bank ostensibly stands for. Salameh skated by without donning a headscarf for 17 months before she was served with two notices five days apart warning her to comply with the dress code. When she refused, she says, she was summarily terminated.


The Hashemite (which is a Latinate term Wikipedia just taught me, so hooray for knowledge) Kingdom of Jordan, considered more tolerant of non-Islamic religions than some of its other Arab neighbors, has a population of about six million people. Four percent of those citizens are Christians, and though the country's head-of-state King Abdullah II is an avowed supporter of moderate Islam, he was educated in the West and encourages religious tolerance. Some observers wonder whether Salameh's challenge of the U.A.E.-based Dubai Islamic Bank's dress code could test the country's ostensible climate of religious tolerance.

Though Salameh did accept the company's dress code (sans head garment), she refused from the outset to wear a headscarf, claiming that the original contract she signed with the Industrial Development Bank had no such stipulation and, therefore, she wasn't obligated to submit to it. According to Salameh, five other Christian women working for the bank agreed to the headscarf, with Salameh being the only dissident. She's claimed that her contract — the original contract — allows her to do whatever she wants, which is exactly the right attitude to have if any corporate overlords try to impose a series of soul-crushing regulations on their employees. Fight the power.

Christian woman sues boss over Islamic dress code in Jordan [NYDN]

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