A man claims he was fired from Bed Bath & Beyond for having a thick beard and was deemed a “terrorist” by his colleagues.
Jose Alcantara, 48, converted to Islam when his mother-in-law was dying from cancer.
“I had nowhere to turn but religion,” he reportedly said.
While working for the popular retail store, Alcantara says he was subjected to harassment from his coworkers when he decided to grow his facial hair in connection to his faith.
Upon regularly being called a terrorist, Alcantara said Human Resources ignored all of his complaints.
“When I was being called a terrorist, it made me question everything — my religion, my beliefs, myself,” Alcantara reportedly told the NY Daily News.
“These were people I trusted and was trying to develop a relationship with. I felt really betrayed. They stabbed me in the back.”
He purportedly got fired for missing too many days of work, but according to a lawsuit filed in Manhattan Supreme Court a supervisor tampered with Alcantara’s vacation schedule to make it look like he was supposed to work on days he was actually not scheduled.
Alcantara’s lawsuit claims he was approached several times by an HR representative about his beard per the request of the store manager, Kellie Marsalli.
Marsalli allegedly became hostile toward Alcantara once it was confirmed by HR that he was practicing the Islamic faith and his beard was an extension of the religion.
The icing on the cake occurred when Alcantara requested vacation days during the winter of 2013. His vacation was approved, but when he received the official work schedule he saw he was given a couple extra days off as well.
When he returned, however, Marsalli fired him for not showing up to work. Alcantara’s lawsuit reportedly includes a photo showing that his schedule was altered to look like he was supposed to work on those days.
“I just wanted to work and take care of my family,” Alcantara reportedly said. “I never thought that I was going to get fired over this.”
If Alcantara's story is true, the store manager definitely went through great lengths to get him fired for his religious beliefs and apparently his “offensive” beard.
It would be one thing if the store had a policy requiring employees to be clean shaven, but as there is no evidence of such a rule this is pretty clearly a personal attack against Alcantara.
This incident goes to show how deep Islamophobia runs. A hardworking man, trying to make an honest living is targeted for religious beliefs ... shameful.
Banner Photo Credit: Flickr User Mike Mozart