Experience level: 
Intermediate
Intended Audience: 
Faculty
Authors: 
Chia-An Chao, Aruna Chandra, Dale Varble, Joyce A. Young

Credit Union Says No to Customer’s Hijab: Public Safety or Discrimination?

This critical incident describes a discrimination claim against Sound Credit Union (SCU). SCU was a local, not-for-profit, financial institution serving 115,000 members in Seattle, Washington and surrounding areas. On May 5, 2017, Jamela Mohamed, a black Muslim woman and SCU customer, reported she was denied service because she wore a hood in observance of Jummah, a holy day for Muslim worship. SCU’s customer dress code policy required members to remove their hats, hoods, and sunglasses for safety reasons. SCU’s customer dress code policy was not uncommon among financial institutions to protect public safety. However, Mohamed claimed the policy was selectively enforced; she recorded her encounter at the credit union and subsequently posted the video on Facebook. The video attracted much negative publicity to the credit union. The next day, SCU released an initial response on its Facebook page that stated it was investigating the incident but did not apologize. The backlash against SCU only intensified. Students are asked to decide what course of action Brenda Heineman, chairperson of SCU’s Board of Directors, should take to respond to the alleged discrimination incident.