This was the predicament faced by Akili Ujima, a dedicated Special Learning Needs Coordinator with the Bureau of Prisons in Georgia. Mr. Ujima encountered an uphill battle when his employer denied him the right to attend Jummah prayer. This conflict surfaced when he sought permission to perform his prayers during his lunch break at a nearby mosque. Regrettably, his employer dismissed his request without consultation with Human Resources, legal representatives, or even Chaplaincy services. Mr. Ujima, a proud and valued member of the American Muslim community, expressed his commitment to his role, “My job is important to me. I am trying my best to make sure our inmates are prepared to go out into society and not return back to prison because of not being prepared adequately.”
Despite a second request, the Bureau of Prisons continued to infringe on Mr. Ujima’s rights, offering no accommodation, a clear violation of the law. It was at this juncture that the Muslim Legal Fund of America (MLFA) and its legal division, the Constitutional Law Center for Muslims in America (CLCMA), stepped in to advocate for Mr. Ujima. As a result of our tenacious representation, Mr. Ujima received a monetary award and had hundreds of Paid Time Off (PTO) hours reinstated. Additionally, all disciplinary actions related to his Jummah accommodation request were expunged from his employment file. However, the fight continues as his employer has yet to fully accommodate his prayer times and provide a schedule that ensures equal promotional opportunities.
MLFA remains steadfast in its commitment to safeguarding religious rights in America. We will relentlessly champion these causes through the court system, even if it means taking the fight all the way to the Supreme Court. Like all Americans, Muslims are entitled to practice their religion free from employer interference or retaliation.
We invite you to join us in this pursuit of justice by sharing Mr. Ujima’s story and considering a donation to MLFA. Together, we can ensure that the fundamental religious rights of American Muslims are upheld.