A Portland woman is suing a national rent-to-own chain, claiming she was harassed and ultimately fired because she is a Muslim.

Leyla Hashi is seeking unspecified pay, benefits and other damages from SEI/Aaron’s, a Georgia-based company that offers appliances, furniture, electronics and other goods on a rent-to-own basis.

Hashi was hired as a customer service representative in the Portland Aaron’s store in June 2015 and fired the next month after she took a day off to celebrate Eid, a Muslim festival that marks the end of Ramadan.

Marshall Tinkle, Hashi’s lawyer, said his client didn’t wear a hijab, a head covering worn by many Muslim women, to her interview for the job, but wore it after she started work at the store. In her lawsuit, Hashi said her boss described the hijab as “a head thingy” and said she looked “weird and different.” Hashi also said that she was the only woman on the store staff and her boss and co-workers made comments about women that were disrespectful. She was also given duties outside of her job description, such as vacuuming, and making and serving coffee to other members of the staff.

After she told her manager that Muslims don’t eat pork, Hashi said in her lawsuit, the staff put on an all-pork barbecue and on one occasion, the manager brought in pizza for employees that had pork toppings.

In July 2015, when Hashi asked for a day off to celebrate Eid, she alleges that her boss refused to give her the time off, but then relented on the morning of the holiday, sending her a text saying she could have the day off. When she returned to work on July 20, 2015, she said, another person was working at her usual front desk position and Hashi’s boss called her into his office and told her that she was fired.


The manager didn’t give Hashi a reason for the firing when he met with her, but later recorded that Hashi was “not a fit” with the company, the lawsuit says.

The lawsuit alleges that Aaron’s created a hostile work environment because of Hashi’s religion, race, color, national origin and/or gender.

Hashi filed a complaint with Maine’s Human Rights Commission and received a right-to-sue letter when the commission failed to act within nine months, Tinkle said. Her lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court in Portland.

A message left seeking comment from Katharine Rand, the Portland lawyer representing Aaron’s in the lawsuit, was not returned Tuesday.

Edward D. Murphy can be contacted at 791-6465 or at:

[email protected]

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