Docked for Religion, Muslim Cops Say

     WASHINGTON (CN) – The D.C. Metropolitan police suspended two officers indefinitely for converting to Islam and adopting Muslim names, the officers claim in court.
     Adham Numair-El and Ishmeal Heru-Bey, formerly Joseph Gibson and Jamal Adams, sued Metro Police Chief Cathy Lanier, internal affairs agent James McGuire and the District of Columbia, in Superior Court.
     Numair-El, who’s been on the force since 2004, and Heru-Bey, a police officer since 2002, both say they converted to Islam for spiritual peace and fulfillment, though they did not reach their decisions together.
     After converting, they legally changed their names to celebrate their religious conversions. Both received new government-issued identification, and Heru-Bey obtained a new Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) identification card and badge under his new name.
     Numair-El claims he applied for a new MPD card and badge, but was denied.
     Both say they were abruptly suspended in 2011, a year after their conversion, as an act of discriminatory retaliation.
     “The investigation and suspension of the plaintiffs was initiated and conducted by defendant McGuire because of the plaintiffs’ religious affiliation and personal associations, statements of expression made by plaintiffs, and the plaintiffs’ respective name changes,” according to the complaint.
     Numair-El claims that he was fired from his part-time job as a security officer after losing his police powers. Both say their suspensions cost them the ability to work special events and overtime.
     Both say the MPD tried to fire them “at the urging and direction of defendants McGuire and Lanier, because of plaintiff’s religious affiliation and personal associations.”
     Both say they were found not guilty of misconduct by a trial board.
     They say they returned to work, only to be suspended again, one day later, again for their religious beliefs.
     “The renewed investigation and suspension of the plaintiffs was initiated and conducted by the employer at the urging and direction of defendants McGuire and Lanier because of the plaintiffs’ religious affiliation and personal associations, statements of religious and personal expression made by the plaintiffs, including, but not limited to, their change of names, and in retaliation for the plaintiffs complaining that their suspensions and the first effort to terminate their employment were acts of unlawful discrimination and violations of the plaintiffs’ constitutionally protected rights,” according to the complaint.
     It adds: “Both plaintiffs have remained suspended (with pay but no overtime, no authorization to work part-time, and no ability to be promoted) for nearly two years since the trial board ruled in the plaintiffs’ favor and without notice of any allegations against them.” (Parentheses in complaint.)
     The officers claim that McGuire caused the Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration to investigate the lawfulness of their driver’s licenses, which bear their Islam names.
     They seek reinstatement and compensatory and punitive damages totaling $16 million, for employment discrimination, civil rights violations and negligent supervision.
     They are represented by Kenneth McPherson, Riverdale, Md.

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