Muslim man alleges DTE Energy refused to allow him to attend prayer services

- A Muslim worker has accused DTE Energy of workplace discrimination for not allowing him to attend Friday prayer services.

"It just was very difficult for me to continue working there in the situation that i was in," said Ibrahim Canales.

The 45-year-old electrical engineer is in the process of moving to Mississippi and says he was forced to leave his job at DTE's Fermi 2 plant because of discrimination.

"The harassment and the tactics used by that supervisor were bad enough that Mr. Canales started looking for another job," said attorney Amy Doukoure with the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR).

Doukoure says Canales started working for DTE in 2017. Originally he had been allowed to leave work to attend Friday afternoon prayer at his mosque -- an obligation for Muslim men -- but it's alleged a new supervisor not only refused to allow Canales to attend Friday prayer, but then harassed him with negative reviews, even when he was no longer his supervisor.

"I definitely didn't deserve a negative review -- that's for sure," Canales said.

CAIR has now filed this complaint with the equal employment opportunity commission against DTE.

"I think the problem definitely was with the supervisor, but I believe that DTE had a responsibility to take care of it because they knew it was happening," Doukoure said.

The attorney says they're not even asking for damages, they just want clarification from DTE.

"Reasonable accommodations are required when there is religious need and a religious practice implicated and we're not asking for anything other than policies that recognize people's religious freedom," Doukoure said.

She says this is just one of many complaints CAIR has filed against numerous companies in the past year.

"We've had a serious increase in complaints to our office for people who are experiencing discrimination at the workplace," she said.

As for Canales, he says he had hoped to retire from DTE but must now move his wife and two children and start over.

"The company can't really violate your rights - especially when it comes to religion - or any kind of civil rights. I mean, it just doesn't make sense," he said.

DTE released this statement regarding the claims:

DTE Energy is an Equal Opportunity Employer and we are committed to providing an inclusive environment for our diverse workforce of more than 10,000 employees.

We can’t speak to the specific allegations as we have not received the charge. However, a preliminary review of records shows that Mr. Canales’ request for religious accommodation was approved and implemented. With respect to his performance, DTE does not comment on confidential HR records.

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