Woman wearing Hijab
Woman wearing HijabReuters

A young Muslim woman in the United States was fired from her job because she wore a headscarf or hijab to work. Her employer claims he wanted to maintain a "neutral environment" at work.

Najaf Khan was hired as a dental assistant at a dental clinic in Fairfax County in Virginia. Khan told NBC Washington on Saturday that she did not wear the hijab for the interview or for the first two days at work. However, on the third day she decided to wear the hijab because she believed it was part of her spiritual journey.

On the day of the incident, the owner of Fair Oaks Dental Care, Dr Chuck Joo, asked Khan to remove her headscarf. "I was really upset. The day it happened, I was devastated," Press Trust of India quoted Khan's statement to NBC as saying.

On his part, Dr Joo said he wanted to maintain "neutral environment in office." In his defence, he wanted to keep religion out of the office and concerned that the Islamic headscarf would offend his patients. Joo told local publications that there was no place for displays of religion and that is not allowed in his office. He compared the hijab to a hat and said that if his employees want to wear a hat, it be a surgical hat — for sanitary reasons.

Finally, Dr Joo gave her two choices: either remove the scarf and continue work or walk out of office.

"When I said I would not compromise my religion for that, he held the door open for me and I walked out," Khan was quoted as saying by media publications

Will Khan return to her job?

Reacting to the news of dismissal of her job, the Council of American Islamic Relations (CAIR) said that "no employee should face termination because of his/her faith or religious practises. We call on Fair Oaks Dental Care to reinstate the Muslim employee and to offer her reasonable religious accommodation as mandated by law," PTI added.

However, Khan said she is certain she will not return to the dental clinic to work.