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Muslim-American claims she was denied employment at Great Clips based on her faith

in The Bay and the 'Burg by

A Wesley Chapel woman is suing the company Great Clips for discrimination after she claims she denied employment because she wore a hijab.

According to a lawsuit filed in Hillsborough County courts November 23, the manager of the Great Clips store located at 1063 earlier this year asked Maison Farhat if she needed “to wear ‘that thing’” on her head.

Farhat describes herself as a licensed hair stylist with more than 20 years experience. She claims her initial interview and tryout with the manager she identified as “Adell Richards” went well, but a second interview was cancelled. Richards allegedly told Farhat another general manager had decided not to hire anyone.

However, Farhat alleges she continued to see help wanted ads for Great Clips including the location she applied to.

The alleged discriminatory statement came after Farhat said she asked why she wasn’t referred to another location.

Richards had initially told Farhat that she did not complete the assigned haircut in her trial in the minimum 12-15 minute time limit. When Farhat argued that a cut on long, curly hair, such as the model she was given, could not completed in that time frame, Richards allegedly agreed.

Farhat initially filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission that concluded her complaint had merit. Upon investigation the commission was told Farhat did not meet the company’s minimum requirements – a statement that seems out of line if Farhat does indeed have 20 plus years of experience as a stylist.

The EEOC unsuccessfully tried to obtain a settlement with the company on Farhat’s behalf and subsequently released the issue as a civil matter.

The lawsuit comes as tensions in the U.S. over Muslim-Americans is heating up. Anti-Islamic sentiment has been booming since the tragic terror attack in Paris last month.

Some prominent conservatives have called on things as outlandish as special IDs for Muslims as well as a bi-partisan effort in Congress to delay accepting Syrian refugees.

Farhat is a 41-year old Muslim born in Kuwait to Palestinian-born parents. She immigrated to the United States at just three-years old. Farhat was divorced in Pasco county. According to documents, Farhat accused her ex-husband of domestic abuse.

The lawsuit seeks a jury trial. It’s not clear what monetary or non-monetary compensation Farhat is seeking.

Janelle Irwin has been a professional journalist covering local news and politics in the Tampa Bay area since 2003. She also hosts a weekly political talk show on WMNF Community radio. Janelle formerly served as the sole staff reporter for WMNF News and previously covered news for and various local neighborhood newsletters. Her work has been featured in the New York Daily News, Free Speech Radio News and Florida Public Radio and she's been interviewed by radio stations across the nation for her coverage of the 2012 Republican National Convention. Janelle is a diehard news junkie who isn't afraid to take on big names in local politics including Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, the dirty business of trash and recycling in St. Pete and the ongoing Pier debacle. Her work as a reporter and radio host has earned her two WMNF awards including News Volunteer of the Year and Public Affairs Volunteer of the Year. Janelle is also the devoted mother to three brilliant and beautiful daughters who are a constant source of inspiration and occasional blogging fodder. To contact, email

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