Muslim woman sues county after allegedly being forced to remove hijab inside Michigan jail

Posted at 5:52 PM, Sep 02, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-02 18:21:44-04

GENESEE CO., Mich. (WXYZ) — A Detroit woman has filed a lawsuit she hopes will impact policies at law enforcement agencies and jails across the country.

The lawsuit lays out what she says happened. Cora Cave was driving home from work. She says she got pulled over for going six miles over the speed limit.

The Michigan State Police trooper who stopped her told her she had an outstanding warrant for a ticket she says she thought was taken care of. Her attorney says it turns out it was. Still, she was arrested and taken to the Genesee County Jail.

As deputies at the jail booked her she says she told them, like some Muslim women do, she believes wearing a hijab is part of being faithful. She says they told her she had to take it off.

“I told her I don’t uncover in front of men. She told me you have to take it off and take it off right now,” said Cora Cave, the plaintiff in the suit.
Cave said she had no choice, but to comply.

“I felt extremely violated,” she said.

Her lawsuit is not the first of its kind. Seven Action News covered similar suits filed against Dearborn and Dearborn Heights several years ago. The cities currently have policies that allow women to wear head coverings in front of men. To prevent personal clothing from being turned into a weapon, special hijabs designed for incarcerated women are provided to those under arrest.

“Cora has the right to express her religion by covering herself. And it is a gross violation of the law for a jailer to violate that right,” said Jim Rasor, her attorney from the Rasor Law Firm.

“It represents how we praise our lord. He wants them to come to him pure and clean. And one way to do it is to cover,” Cave said.

Sheriff Chris Swanson said his office has not yet been served with notice of the lawsuit and could not provide comment.

Genesee County Prosecutor David Leyton responded to our story saying the allegations are something the county takes very seriously. It has not yet received the lawsuit, but will review the suit and investigate what happened.