Islamic aerospace engineer Shazahd Khaligh has filed suit against her employer, NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JSL) and her former supervisor, Fred Hadaegh.
Khaligh alleges that Hadaegh told her she should not work or seek an education because she is Muslim. At the time, Khaligh was seeking a Ph.D. from the University of Southern California. Hadaegh, who himself is Muslim, was also charged with obstructing Khaligh’s career by repeatedly threatening to fire her, refusing to authorize her tuition reimbursement forms, and discouraging or preventing her from submitting papers to JPL conferences.
Khaligh charges that JPL managers were aware of Hadaegh’s abuses, yet did nothing to stop him. Plaintiff’s attorney Mark J. Leonardo commented, “She was singled out because she was a woman and more particularly because she’s Muslim.”
JPL has denied all charges, claiming that the case has “no substance.” The case’s first hearing will be held today in California Superior Court, where Judge Mel Red Recana will allow the case to continue in the courts or send it to arbitration.