The Oklahoma Chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR)
is asking Tulsa’s Valley National Bank to review a policy that they claim is discriminatory.
The Executive Director CAIR, Adam Soltani, said he received a complaint from a Kiefer, Oklahoma resident on October 9th.
The woman expressed concern she was the victim of discrimination at the Valley National Bank location on 81st & Yale because of her religious head scarf, or Hijab.
CAIR said the Muslim customer was allegedly told she would not be able to enter the bank unless she removed the headscarf or was accompanied by a bank employee to and from the teller because of a “no hats, no hoods, no sunglasses” policy.
The woman does not want to go on camera but CAIR said the policy should not have applied.
“We would really like to see the police reviewed and revised in order to accommodate head wear that is chosen to be worn for religious reasons,” said Communications Director for CAIR-OK Jillian Holzbauer.
President and CEO of Valley National Bank, Brad Scrivner, said the “no hats” policy is used as a deterrent for crime. He says the policy was put in place 6 year ago at the recommendation of the Oklahoma Banker’s Association as means to protect the lives and safety of employees and customers.
Spokesperson for the Islamic Council of Oklahoma, Sheryl Siddiqui, said that she doesn't believe that safety should be an excuse.
"Schools, stores and employers throughout Tulsa including other banks have succesfully developed security policies that respect their customers' civil right while simultaneously protecting all of the customers and employees," said Siddiqui.
Since the incident CAIR and Valley National Bank have exchanged emails. CAIR is asking for the policy to be changed.
“There are unintended consequences of these policies that could single out more than just Muslim customers but a wide variety of religions,” said Holzbauer.
Valley National Bank maintains its current policy in a statement:
"Since 2006 VNB has adopted the recommendation of the Oklahoma Banker’s Association of “No hats, no hoods, no sunglasses” and Valley National Bank has signage on the entry of each of its bank locations in Oklahoma. This policy of the OBA adopted by Valley Bank is designed to protect both employees and customers from harm from any person entering the bank that cannot be easily identified. If a customer or prospective customer enters Valley National Bank wearing a hat, a hood, or sunglasses, it is the bank’s policy to have an employee accompany the customer while in the bank to ensure safety for its employees and others customers. In the six years that this policy has been in place, Valley has not had a single complaint until the most recent visit of Ms., of Keifer, OK, who is not a customer of the bank, entered the bank wearing a head scarf and indicated that she did not want to remove her head scarf and the employee of Valley National Bank responded courteously that she would have to accompany her, at which point Ms. left the bank. The bank received an undated letter from the Executive Director of CAIR almost two weeks after Ms. visit to the bank on October 9, 2012. A letter dated November 2, sent by the President of Valley National Bank to the Executive Director of CAIR explaining OBA recommendation that Valley has followed for six years without any complaints. Valley has received no response to the Bank President’s letter of November 2nd in 2012."