Issues: ,

Muslim Advocates Announces Settlement with Wilmington, Delaware Over Pool Discrimination Lawsuit

Washington, DC – Today, Muslim Advocates and its co-counsel announced a settlement with the city of Wilmington, Delaware in Darul Amaanah v. City of Wilmington, a civil rights lawsuit concerning the repeated harassment and ejection of Muslim children at Wilmington public pools last summer.  Under the terms of the settlement, the city agreed to:

  • Revise dress code policies for city-operated aquatic facilities to ensure access for all patrons by expressly accommodating clothing worn for religious reasons or financial hardship;
  • Provide additional training to employees of city-operated aquatic facilities and prominently display the new dress code policy at all city pools;
  • Extend the length of the 2019 pool season through Labor Day;
  • And provide compensation to plaintiffs totaling $50,000.

In conjunction with the settlement, the city has also released a public statement; that statement is available here.

The settlement resolves a lawsuit brought by Wilmington-based Muslim youth center, Darul Amaanah Academy, and certain families associated with the center. Some of the children attending Darul Amaanah’s summer camp, consistent with their religious beliefs, wear headscarves, t-shirts or leggings while in public. Despite wearing such clothing at city pools for years without incident, pool staff harassed the children this past summer and repeatedly denied them access to the pool simply because of their religious beliefs. Despite numerous complaints, including a cease and desist letter from Muslim Advocates and an acknowledgement from the mayor’s office that the city used “poor judgment” and “should be held accountable,” the city failed to take meaningful action, forcing the plaintiffs to file this lawsuit in August 2018.

“I was born and raised in Wilmington, which is why it broke my heart to see our children face this kind of discrimination and humiliation from the city,” said Tahsiyn Ismaa’eel, founding director of the Darul Amaanah Academy summer youth camp. “Every child should be able to have fun in a public pool without having to worry about facing prejudice.”

“Darul Amaanah Academy’s staff and families showed remarkable courage by publicly standing up for themselves and for the broader Wilmington community.  Everybody — especially young children — should be allowed to use the pool without fearing that they will be discriminated against because of what they believe or the way they look,” said Juvaria Khan, senior staff attorney at Muslim Advocates. “This situation should have never happened, and this settlement agreement helps ensure that it will never happen again.”

Darul Amaanah v. City of Wilmington was filed by Darul Amaanah Academy and five families whose children participate in the Academy’s summer camp. The lawsuit was first filed in Delaware Chancery Court and was later moved to the United States District Court for the District of Delaware. The plaintiffs are represented by Muslim Advocates along with their co-counsel Cliff C. Gardner, Matthew P. Majarian, Bonnie W. David, Kaitlin E. Maloney, and Haley S. Stern. A recording of a press call announcing the lawsuit is available here.

Muslim Advocates is a national civil rights organization working in the courts, in the halls of power and in communities to halt bigotry in its tracks. We ensure that American Muslims have a seat at the table with expert representation so that all Americans may live free from hate and discrimination.