ACLU Demands Foster Care Agency Acknowledge Discrimination Against Muslim Woman

Affiliate: ACLU of Maryland
May 3, 2010 12:00 am

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BALTIMORE, MD – The American Civil Liberties Union of Maryland (ACLU) today asked the Maryland Office of Licensing and Monitoring — the agency that licenses foster care agencies in the state — to require Contemporary Family Services, Inc (CFS) to acknowledge its error in denying Tashima Crudup a foster care license based solely on a religiously-based prohibition on pork and to pledge not to discriminate in future decisions.

Despite a citation from the state finding that it had discriminated against Ms. Crudup by denying her a license to be a foster parent in explicit violation of state law, CFS continues to defend its decision on grounds that Ms. Crudup prohibits pork within her home.

“Contemporary Family Services’ explanation that Ms. Crudup’s inflexibility caused it to deny her application is a poor attempt to justify its original discriminatory decision,” said Ajmel Quereshi, attorney with the ACLU of Maryland. “The sole evidence CFS cites of her alleged inflexibility is her refusal to allow pork within her home; the same basis the state found violated Maryland law.”

According to the state citation, dated April 14, 2010, “Contemporary Family Services’ ultimate documented decision to deny Ms. Crudup foster parent certification based on her religious belief to prohibit pork products within the home is a violation of … COMAR” COMAR prohibits any agency receiving funding from the Maryland Department of Human Resources from discriminating on the basis of religion. CFS defended its decision on the grounds that Ms. Crudup’s refusal to allow pork within her home evidenced “concerns about [her] ability to provide the needed flexibility in dealing with the level of youth placed in the care of CFS.”

Even more troubling, CFS suggested that when it makes similar discriminatory decisions in the future it would attempt to hide its discriminatory intent. As stated in CFS’s response: “Our seeming fault in this is not that we denied Ms. Crudup but that we were specific in explaining the nature of the conversation from which her unyielding position was based.”

The state’s citation also faulted CFS for failing to establish and distribute a nondiscrimination policy and for failing to provide parents information about their right to appeal CFS’s decision if they found it to be discriminatory. After finding CFS’s initial response to be insufficient, the state mailed them a second citation. However, CFS responded again that it did not find its denial, based solely on Ms. Crudup’s prohibition on pork in her home, to be discriminatory.

Go online to read the letter to the Maryland Office of Licensing and Monitoring:

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