Veiled Muslim Woman Denied Gas Wants Chevron Apology

PHOTO: La Fleur Mohamed, claims she was turned away from Chevron for not removing her face veil.
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A Muslim woman is threatening to sue Chevron unless the gas giant issues her a better apology for refusing to serve her while she was wearing a veil that exposed only her eyes.

Wilfredo Ruiz, the attorney for La Fleur Mohamed, said Chevron's apology was "light" and did not properly remedy the "embarrassing moment" his client experienced on Oct. 28, 2011.

"If Chevron does not move away from the rheotoric, then we will pursue a legal action," Ruiz told ABCNews.com. "If they admit their errors and compensate accordingly for a very oppressive way of treating her, then we don't see a need to go trial."

Chevron acknowledged that Mohamed was asked to remove her veil for "security purposes" and said it was protocol for people to remove masks and head coverings for the safety of gas station attendants.

Mohamed, 39, refused to remove her veil and called police. Despite having an officer on the scene, she was still denied service.

"The incident occurred within a few days of Halloween – a time when retailers are prone to increased theft from persons wearing masks and other facial coverings," said Chevron spokesman Brent Tippen. "We fully believe that our employee acted without the intent to violate Ms. Mohamed's religious principles and any suggestion that discrimination is acceptable at Chevron is completely false."

Ruiz, however, said the safety argument was not valid since a police officer was present.

"The argument goes down the drain that this is a safety issue when someone is escorted by a sheriff and there is still a denial to serve her," he said.

Tippen said the officer was not there to facilitate the transaction, but only to inquire about the employee's decision not to serve Mohamed while she was covered.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations filed a complaint this week on behalf of Mohamed with the Florida State Commission of Human Relations after months of corresponding with Chevron regarding the issue.

"Chevron has been talking out of both sides of their mouth, saying they apologized, but see no signs of discrimination," said Nezar Hamze, a spokesperson for the Council on Islamic-American Relations in South Florida. "We think they're maneuvering."

Hamze said he believed the officer on the scene did all he could do, since it was a civil issue.

Ruiz said Mohamed's elderly parents were in the car visiting from St. Vincent at the time of the incident. She was "crying" and called a friend to escort her car home, worried that her car may run out of gas with her parents inside.

Mohamed was in the news last year for being photographed wearing her niqab in a headshot after she was arrested for domestic battery. She was later re-photographed in accordance with jail policies, which required her to show her face.

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