Federal law requires employers to "reasonably accommodate" religious practices unless doing so would impose such a hardship. The Supreme Court has interpreted the provision narrowly, saying accommodations should be granted only if they impose a minimal burden on employers.
Hans von Spakovsky, a Justice Department civil rights official in the Bush administration, said, "No jury anywhere would think that a teacher leaving for three weeks during a crucial time at the end of a semester is reasonable."
"This is a political lawsuit to placate Muslims," he said.
Perez said the district committed "a very serious" violation by "summarily" rejecting Khan's leave. He added that Bush officials critical of the department's lawsuit had "amnesia" because they filed similar lawsuits. "I'm perplexed as to why suddenly, in the context of protecting Muslims," there is opposition from officials in the former administration, he said.
Eugene Volokh, an expert on religions and the law at the UCLA law school, said he does not know of any cases involving a 19-day leave, though many courts have said employees can take off one weekend day on the Sabbath in some circumstances. "That's a 52-day-a-year leave, just not all at once," he said.
A number of courts have also upheld religious-based leaves of up to 10 days.
But Khan's 19 consecutive days "cuts against her, makes it more of a hardship for the employer" said Volokh. He added, "I don't want to suggest that this is an easy case for the Justice Department" to win.
Read the full story at The Washington Post.