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Teacher wins in fight against school

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BERKELEY, Ill., Oct. 14 (UPI) -- A Chicago-area Muslim woman won a fight against a suburban school district that denied her leave to go on a religious pilgrimage to Mecca.

The U.S. Department of Justice said Thursday it settled Safoorah Khan's religious discrimination lawsuit against the Berkeley School District, the Chicago Sun-Times reported.

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Khan, a teacher at MacArthur Middle School, requested an unpaid leave of absence in December 2008 to perform hajj, a pilgrimage to Mecca required by Islam.

The school district told her she had to choose between her religion and her job. She resigned.

The school district is required to pay $75,000 in lost back pay, compensatory damages and attorney's fees, and will also have to develop a policy that accommodates religions, consistent with the Civil Rights Act.

"I'm glad that we settled and I hope this does set a precedent," Khan said. "I hope they realize that hajj means a lot to Muslims and there will be more and more people taking the trip. I hope this helps people and their employers to accommodate Muslims and their requests."

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