Is it a case of legitimate discrimination? Or a Justice Department out of control? Those are two of the questions surrounding the case of Safoorah Khan, a 29-year-old math teacher and devout Muslim who, until December of 2007, taught at the MacArthur Middle School in Berkeley, Ill.

In mid-August of that year, Khan notified her employer that she wanted three weeks of unpaid leave in December to attend the Hajj, the Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca.

It happened to fall that year just prior to her students’ final exams and the school district said no, leading Khan to resign. She took her case to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which ruled in her favor and referred the case to the Department of Justice.

Last December, DOJ filed suit against the Berkeley, Ill., School Board in federal court in Chicago, claiming it violated Title Seven of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. The act prohibits an employer from discriminating on the basis of race, color, sex, national origin or religion.

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