- Associated Press - Tuesday, November 24, 2015

CAMDEN, N.J. (AP) - A Muslim receptionist at a southern New Jersey hospital says she was disciplined after reporting for work with henna ink designs on her hand - a traditional ceremonial practice in her faith.

A lawsuit filed in Superior Court in Camden last week alleges three fellow Cooper University Hospital employees violated Althea Saunders’ rights to religious freedom, NJ.com reported (https://bit.ly/1HkjF6N).

A hospital spokeswoman declined to comment on pending legal matters. The hospital’s policy prohibits visible tattoos or markings.

Saunders said she worked with henna on her hands many times in the past and suffered no repercussions.

Henna is a popular dye for temporary body art that is commonly used by Muslim women to decorate their hands and feet in a celebratory practice.

The temporary tattoos became an issue with superiors about three months ago, Saunders said.

The suit claims Saunders started receiving negative performance evaluations and was threatened with disciplinary action that prevented her from exercising part of her religious beliefs.

“We believe her rights were violated and that’s what we intend to prove at trial,” said J. Edmund Bryak, Saunders’ attorney.

Saunders is seeking a jury trial in the suit as well as monetary damages and the cost of attorney’s fees.


Information from: NJ Advance Media.

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