When Pari Shojae was studying for her doctorate in pharmacy, she made a promise to herself and to her God: "If I get this degree, patients' lives are going to be like my family's lives." But several years after her Shiite Muslim faith helped inspire Shojae to graduate, it made her the target of workplace bullying—by other Muslims—that went so far as to put patients' lives in jeopardy, she alleges in a new federal lawsuit.
Shojae says most of her pharmacy department co-workers at Harlem Hospital Center, including her ex-boss, are Sunni Muslims of Pakistani descent. While Sunni and Shiite are both sects of Islam, there has long been antagonism between the groups. At this New York City hospital, where Shojae was hired as an I.V. supervisor in 2009, "many of these staff members feel an animus towards Shia Muslims, individuals of Persian descent and women who address men in a polite but businesslike manner," the federal discrimination lawsuit, filed July 7, states.