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Poll finds Muslim American doctors face workplace discrimination

According to a study published in December 2015, nearly half of Muslim American doctors across the United States feel discriminated against in the workplace. The study, which was published in the online journal AJOB Empirical Bioethics, was conducted by University of Chicago researchers and funded by the John Templeton Foundation. It is the first study to look at the link between the religious beliefs of Muslim American doctors and on-the-job discrimination, and it will certainly be of interest to many California health care practitioners.

Researchers polled 255 Muslim American doctors and found that almost half of the survey's participants believed they were more highly scrutinized at work when compared to their non-Muslim colleagues. Nearly 25 percent of those polled said they had experienced religious discrimination sometimes or often at work. The same percentage felt they had been passed over for promotions due to their religion. Further, the more devout a doctor claimed to be, the more likely they were to report discrimination. However, there was no apparent correlation between a doctor's religious appearance, such as growing a beard or wearing a head scarf, or outward indications of religious practice, such as the frequency of prayers, and their perceived sense of workplace discrimination.

The authors of the study said their findings show programs are needed to eliminate religious-based discrimination in the health care industry. Their research supports other studies that show Muslims suffer discrimination nationwide. Polls by Zogby and the Pew Research Center found that Americans view Muslims more negatively than any other religious group in the country. Around 5 percent of all U.S. doctors are Muslim.

California workers facing employment discrimination due to their religious beliefs or any other protected category could find out more about their legal rights by consulting with an attorney. If a discrimination case is strong, legal counsel may recommend initiating the process by filing a claim with the appropriate state or federal agency.

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