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Suit: Jewish dentist fired over religion

March 16, 2012 at 8:40 PM

DETROIT, March 16 (UPI) -- A dentist said in a federal lawsuit he was fired from a job at a Dearborn, Mich., dental office because he is Jewish.

Dr. Mark Ellis alleged in the suit he was advised against wearing a yarmulke, a head covering traditionally worn by Jewish men, and tzitzit, ceremonial religious tassels, while working as a dental manager at Midwest Dental of Dearborn "since the office was located in Dearborn with a large percentage of Arabic patients," The Detroit News reported.

The suit, filed in federal court in Detroit, said the dental firm, which does business as Midwestern Dental, "permitted Muslim dentists to wear head covering or other clothing dictated by their religious beliefs."

Ellis, who worked at Midwestern Dental from 2007-2010, said in the suit he was discriminated against because of his religion and alleged his civil rights were violated as a result.

Ellis was not available for comment Thursday and efforts to reach Midwestern Dental officials were unsuccessful, the News said.

An observant Jew, Ellis alleged he asked his boss to change his work schedule so he could arrive home before dark on Fridays and observe the beginning of the Jewish Sabbath, as his faith requires.

He alleged the "defendant reluctantly allowed plaintiff to leave early on Friday but constantly questioned, ridiculed and harassed him about the legitimacy of his beliefs." The suit said Muslim dentists were given "an extra hour at lunch to attend prayers at a local Mosque."

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