Najmah Rashad, a secretary in the agency's legal office, filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia seeking some $400,000 in damages.
Her case is the latest accusation of religious discrimination at the agency. In February 2009, Metro settled a complaint by the U.S. Justice Department that said the transit agency discriminated against at least three women. One, a bus driver in training, was not allowed to wear a skirt in keeping with her Pentecostal Christian faith, while two Muslim employees were not allowed to wear hijab, meaning headscarves. Metro agreed to pay the women, provide religious sensitivity training for all supervisors and managers, plus create a policy accommodating religious practices.
"Metro has a duty to provide a reasonable accommodation of employees' religious observances, practices and/or beliefs provided it does not create an undue hardship on the conduct of Metro's business practices or compromise safety or security," Metro's subsequent 2009 religious accommodation policy states.
Nowhere in the seven-page document does it specifically address how time can be taken off for religious holidays or prayer.
Rashad's lawsuit argues that Metro violated the 2009 settlement agreement in how it treated her.
Metro declined to comment, saying it does not discuss pending litigation. Rashad's attorney did not return a call for comment Tuesday.
The court documents say Metro initially denied her request from December 2010 to May 2011 to switch her "alternative work schedule day" from Tuesday to Friday. Some Metro employees can work longer days in exchange for taking off another weekday periodically.
When Metro agreed in March 2011 to let Rashad switch days, her complaint says, the agency required her to use personal and sick leave before she could use 3.5 hours of unpaid leave on Fridays.
She said she felt retaliated against when told her absence was a "burden" and was disciplined over missing time although she said she had sufficient leave available. She sought medical attention for the religious discrimination and retaliation that she encountered, according to her complaint.