Gateway Metro Credit Union Rejects Muslim Woman Adiaratou Sall Due To Her Headscarf

Categories: News

Adiaratou-Sall.jpg
Courtesy of Sall
Adiaratou Sall, in the headscarf she was wearing when the incident happened.
Adiaratou Sall, a 46-year-old Hazelwood resident, has been a customer at Gateway Metro Federal Credit Union for ten years. Sall also happens to be Muslim and wears a headscarf whenever she is in public, which, until recently, has not been a problem.

Last week, however, when she went to the bank's north county branch in Florissant to make a deposit, a teller had a surprising message for her: "'You need to remove your headscarf before I finish the transaction,'" Sall recalls to Daily RFT.

"I was really, really hurt," Sall says. "I've never experienced that. They treated me like I was the bank robber."

Why was she denied service? The credit union says it's enforcing a strict clothing policy to deter robbers -- and that it won't make any exceptions.

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"I can't expose my hair in public, because I'm a Muslim," Sall says. "I wear it nonstop."

Sall, who has three daughters and works as a hair braider, adds, "I feel really offended. You don't treat people like that. I'm not the enemy."

Adiaratou-Sal-2.jpg
Courtesy of Sall
Adiaratou Sall.

Larry Pixley, the credit union's president and CEO, tells Daily RFT that his company's policy is very clear: "No hats, no sunglasses, no hoodies...no exceptions."

The rule, he says, applies to "anything that is covering the head."

He says that the credit union has maintained this policy for many years, but that in response to recent robberies, has been enforcing it more strictly.

"By no means is this any type of religious issue," Pixley says. "We have to ask everyone to remove their hats."

Pixley says that over the last year-and-a-half, the credit union has experienced seven or eight robberies, adding, "Some of our robberies have been pretty dramatic."

If someone does not like the policy, there are alternative options, he argues.

"If it's uncomfortable to take it off, there are other means to do transactions -- the ATM, free internet banking," he says. "We have members completely out of state. They don't come in."

Pixley also argues that it would be unfair to make any exemptions.

"I don't know how to determine somebody's religion just by what they're wearing," he says, adding, "How do I know who is a threat nowadays?"

Sall, whose story was first reported by KSDK (Channel 5), tells us that after the incident last Wednesday, she ended up going to the credit union's west county branch and did not have any problems.

When she followed up to complain about her first experience, however, officials with the company told her that it was wrong for employees to allow her in with her headscarf and that they would be strictly enforcing the policy at all of their branches.

A representative, Sall recalls, told her, "'I just wanted to let you know it doesn't matter who you are, whoever has any little thing in their hair, we can't serve you. You have to go use the ATM.'"

Sall, however, says she doesn't feel safe using the ATM outside and that she is a longtime customer who should be allowed to go inside the bank without compromising her religious practices.

credit-union-center.jpg
via
Credit union in south county.

"I can understand they need security. I need security with them, too," says Sall, who is originally from Senegal and has lived in St. Louis for eleven years. "But don't put it on the customer."

Sall says she has been in the United States for more than two decades. "I have never experienced any kind of discrimination.... To me, the United States is better than that."

She says she is hoping that they can resolve this and continue to use the credit union -- but recognizes she may ultimately have to choose a different bank.

Pixley reiterates that this is not an ideal situation, but that it is necessary.

"It's sad, it really is, that we have to put the good members through all of this," he says. "I'm not trying to discriminate.... But this is for the safety and concerns of the members and the employees."

Send feedback and tips to the author. Follow Sam Levin on Twitter at @SamTLevin.


My Voice Nation Help
69 comments
camicazecliff
camicazecliff

She could just use the drive thru if she doesn't want to take off her head scarf but she's also showing her boobs & shows her arms so how much of a Muslim is she

John Shadley
John Shadley

Discrimination or Public Safety !?!?! NO ! It's called "rules" ! If you're in someone's business you follow their rules or you leave. Why do people think they are entitled to break the rules that are accepted by everyone else ?

Casey Case
Casey Case

please if she was so worried about her MUSLIM belives why is she showing her arms and big ass boobs! fuck her she just want to cry

Phil Janovick
Phil Janovick

They made me !!! This redneck, take my bandana off also !!!! & I belong to the religious rednecks of the south side !!!!! Lets all sue for millions of dollars !!!!!!!!!!!

Phil Janovick
Phil Janovick

They made me take my redneck bandana off too.......lets get a class action law suit goen !!!!!

Phil Janovick
Phil Janovick

Lets give her 10 million dollars so she'll stop crying about OUR AMERICAN ways........What do you say fellow Americans !!!!!!!!!! ???????????

Marita Donalds
Marita Donalds

Stirring the pot again RFT? .. How many times will you Re-publish this story? .. As many times as the the St.Louis Transplants article? .. You sure have a way with making St.Louis look attractive to Outsiders.

amymooney66
amymooney66

I would Sue them!! that is Freedom of Religion, and anyone who violates this RIGHT should definitely see their day in court.

wonderdude
wonderdude

If she's doesn't feel safe using the ATM next to the front door, it would appear the safety concerns of all the employees working on the other side of the door are valid.

Casey Case
Casey Case

get over it!!! if u dont wanna take the doo rag off go somewhere els! wtf

Meral Ökten
Meral Ökten

A headscarf is not a "dress code", it's the exercise of freedom of religion. Even a private business should know the Constitution.

David Clarke
David Clarke

Devout muslim women don't cover their head and then show a ton of cleavage. Go away gadfly.

Jesse Speaks Jr
Jesse Speaks Jr

Failure to adhere to minimal public safety requirements will result in the police being called , for your safety.

Don Lankford
Don Lankford

take your scarf off and get over it.. teller was doing their job.. she wasn't refused service just asked to identify her-self

Steve Mincer
Steve Mincer

a private business can't enforce a dress code??? yes, america has gone nuts.

Erica Gray Wallace
Erica Gray Wallace

You know, I'm wondering something - their policy also forbids sunglasses, right? Well, like many women, when I enter a building, I often take my sunglasses off of my face and put them on top of my head. I've also done the same thing with my reading glasses. So, would the sunglasses or reading glasses on the **top** of my head violate their policy? As with this lady's headscarf, those glasses on the top of my head are not concealing my face.

Erica Gray Wallace
Erica Gray Wallace

Regardless, since her face is not concealed, I don't see how her headscarf would pose a security risk.

Erica Gray Wallace
Erica Gray Wallace

I think she has every right to follow whatever religious beliefs she wants and to wear whatever she wants, but like Kate, I don't quite understand why exposing her hair in public would be immodest, but exposing her shoulders and cleavage is okay.

Blake Harris
Blake Harris

Pretty sure, much like gun laws, that bank robber is gonna go ahead and wear that mask or hoodie or what not..

jeffvstl1
jeffvstl1

Can't understand why this policy would deter a bank robbery.  Would the bank teller tell an armed robber that she can't give him the money until he removes his mask?  

A Robert Jacques
A Robert Jacques

This is what happens when people castoff their critical thinking in favor of zero-tolerance policies. Just like school administrators who punish kids for drawing guns.

Jennifer Richmond
Jennifer Richmond

Just like the hundreds of christian faiths, catholic, baptist, etc..., Muslims also have different groups that interpret and practice their religious laws differently. Therefore, it isn't really fair to interpret or judge this woman's choices. And yes, now that the managers of the bank have been informed of this potentially discriminatory rule, but refuse to adjust their policy, it makes them jerks.

Julie Sommer
Julie Sommer

just read the article total BS. yes, you should not be able to wear anything that covers your FACE but she should be able to cover her hair-her face is COMPLETELY visible!!!

Julie Sommer
Julie Sommer

WHAT??? totally illegal. she is taking care of her banking and has to conform to their dress code???

Thomas Thale
Thomas Thale

seems stupid to me to reject her for wearing a doo-rag!

Valerie Slaughter
Valerie Slaughter

I just don't see what's so different from this and super short hair or no hair at all. I could understand if it hid her face in some way but her face is more visible this way. Just because it's a rule doesn't make it right.

Dani Kinnison
Dani Kinnison

OK, and I can understand where you are coming from, but it's not up to either of us. It's up to her and God. So it really doesn't matter what we think, is what I was trying to get at.

Kate Tabers
Kate Tabers

I agree. I have nothing but respect for people and their religions....but from my college studies of the religion, and from firsthand knowledge from my Muslim friends, if she chooses to live her life in modesty, she should dress the part as well.

Dani Kinnison
Dani Kinnison

Exactly, you're knocking how she's dressed. Many Muslim women choose to dress different ways for different reasons. So it doesn't really matter how modest you, or me, or anyone else thinks she is because we are not her, and we do not know her reason for her choices (nor should we feel entitled to.)

David Enders
David Enders

Way to go STL. Bunch of bigoted dumdasses.

Jimmie Thomptson
Jimmie Thomptson

ok rft lets see a pic of the actual garment see wore to the bank...once again you only show your side of the story...shame

Denise Schrader Laumeier
Denise Schrader Laumeier

That's doesn't have anything to do with Islam, it's a normal every day doo rag, if my husband can't wear his ball cap in the bank then she can't wear that.

Kate Tabers
Kate Tabers

Thanks for the input Dani......but if you are going to claim modesty, then she needs to be just that. Not knocking the claim she's making, just how she's dressed.

Dani Kinnison
Dani Kinnison

It's not up to you to declare what you think her levels of modesty are. Different women have different faith relationships, even in choice of how they dress (or don't dress.)

Linda Kessler
Linda Kessler

Rural King stores do not allow back packs. Everything is NOT prejudicial or discriminatory. Some people take everything to extremes & that irks me

Ryan Mackley
Ryan Mackley

This is NOT discrimination. This is security and fairness in play. Have all of you already forgotten the Boonie Hat Bandit?

Lynda Mills
Lynda Mills

just another made up reason for people to stir up trouble & get their way... oh it was racism, oh it was sexism... now its religious.... get a grip people

Kate Tabers
Kate Tabers

She can expose her hair. I know many devote Muslim women, and the only reason behind her covering parts of her body would be because of her modesty. And judging by the photo they posted in the article, she's not worried about modesty.

Mark Swain
Mark Swain

I used to be able to walk into a bank with a cigarette, now i can't - so get the fu*k over it. And I have lived here for 62 years

Phil Janovick
Phil Janovick

YOU tell her Kathie!!!! Attta girl ....go to the next bank down the street WITH THE SAME PRECAUTIONS ENFORCED !!!!!!!!!

Phil Janovick
Phil Janovick

I THOUGHT THEY WEREN"T ALLOWED TO BE PHOTOGRAPHED ???????? OH GOD GOD GOD GOD GOD !!!!!! PLEEEEEEEEZZZZZZZ !!!! Tell me she isn't going to exhort money from them now..........SHE LIVES IN FRIGGGGEN USA !!!!! SUBMIT & COMPLY !!!!! There are plenty of other options for her to bank !!!! She sound likes a shit disturber !!!! WAS SHE BORN HERE ?????? or OVER THERE ?????? WE AS VICTIMS OF TERRORISTS DON"T KNOW IF SHE HAS SOME TYPE OF WEAPON UNDER HER "BABUSHKA" !!!!!!! ..........................I know it's not a babushka !!!! ;-)

Rachael Martin
Rachael Martin

This is crazy, it's not like her face is covered. This is religious discrimination in my book. If she can't where her head scarf in the bank then should they not make the Pentecost women wear pants because their legs are showing? (No offense or disrespect is meant to any of my friends of the Pentecost faith) Yes, this policy is just that stupid!!!!!

Kathie Steffens
Kathie Steffens

I think this is stupidity and if I were her, I wouldn't give them a nickel of my business.

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