Muslim Woman Told to Remove Headwear In the Middle of State Bar Exam

Officials said the situation was corrected promptly, and was an unfortunate miscommunication.

The head of the state’s bar examiners said Saturday that the board would take a look at protocol, in regards to religious head garments being worn during test-taking, after a Muslim woman was given a note ordering her to remove her hijab, even though she had received consent prior to exam day.

Marilyn Wellington, executive director of the Massachusetts Board of Bar Examiners, told Boston that the incident during the exam in Springfield last week, when a University of Michigan graduate of Muslim faith was given a hand-written note telling her to place her headscarf underneath her seat to comply with the rules, was “unfortunate” and officials are looking into it. “There was a request made by a proctor that she remove her hijab, and it was a miscommunication,” said Wellington. “At this point, we are very regretful it happened and we are reviewing our procedures to make sure this doesn’t happen again.”

According to the Massachusetts Board Bar Examiner’s “security policy,” items such as “hats, scarves, caps, hoods, bandanas, visors, costume headgear or sunglasses” can’t be worn inside the examination room. However, “headwear that has been granted prior approval by the Board of Bar Examiners for religious or medical reasons,” is allowed.

The board’s director said these procedures are in place to thwart someone’s “ability…to cheat or bring in information that would provide them with an advantage over other people taking the exam.”

Wellington confirmed that the woman taking the test Thursday had received pre-approval by the board to wear her headscarf during the test. However, despite the pre-approval, the proctor appointed to oversee the distribution of the test still asked her to take it off “in the middle” of the 16-hour bar exam.

The note handed to the test-taker, which was posted to various social media sites, said the following:

Photo via

Photo via

The woman said in a subsequent Facebook post, later shared on Twitter, that she had received the verbal approval on Monday, days before the bar exam. She said she was “already bothered” by the whole process she had to go through to get the OK to wear her religious headpiece, and even more so when she was interrupted in the middle of her test, instead of the proctor “waiting for her lunch break.”

The woman spent her lunch break calling the exam board to let them know what happened, according to her post online.

Wellington said as soon as her office was made aware of the proctor’s request, it was immediately dismissed. “It was a very unfortunate miscommunication and we corrected it as soon as we were aware of it,” she said.

The “miscommunication” will be subject of review so the board can “see how it can be improved and to make sure this sort of circumstance is avoidable in the future,” said Wellington. She confirmed that receiving requests prior to the day of an exam to wear religious garments are “common,” and that this particular incident was “unique.”

The woman who was at the center of the incident told, who first reported on it, that she didn’t feel as though she was singled out or racially targeted, but that she hoped three things would come from the unfortunate interaction, including changes to the procedures to get approval for those who wear headscarves or other religious head garments. “First, the proctor saw me walking into the room and we were about 30 people in total. If she was concerned I didn’t have authorization, she should’ve asked at the outset and I would’ve gladly explained. Second, the requirement for prior authorization to wear religious headgear is unnecessary…lastly, if they require the prior authorization, they should make that clear in the application. I strangely discovered the requirement in the ‘security policy’ link that was included in an email sent a month ago,” she told Above The Law. “The whole process is cumbersome and inefficient.”

  • puhiawa

    Apparently rules only do not apply to Muslims.

    • Gary Rumain

      No, not the rules of the kuffar.

  • TaterSalad

    What a bunch of BS. special attention given to Muslims is all bullshi*!

    • edro3111

      Yessir! Totally agree!!

  • EricStoner

    I think this is great. We can pay a smart person, stick em in a berka and have em get us a bar license:-)

  • Chunkdog1

    To make it clear, without any question, no head gear or covering of any kind, should be allowed to be worn. It’s your choice.

    Part of the problem with any head covering, is how much of the head does it cover? Your face is no different than a passport or license. It’s a form of identity. If I make a choice not to have a government issued photo id, then I am not allowed to take the test. That’s my choice.

    Are women allowed, with prior authorization, to wear a burka? If so, then they are not being held to the same identity standards of everyone else. What percentage of the head is allowed to be covered?

    As long as your face is considered a form of ID, it should be a requirement for everyone, our no one.

    • disqus_PXAekcKS6y

      She was wearing a headscarf, not a burqa or niqab. A person’s face is visible if they are only wearing a headscarf.

    • disqus_PXAekcKS6y

      She was wearing a headscarf, not a burqa or niqab. A person’s face is visible if they are only wearing a headscarf.

      • Chunkdog1

        I realize that. But what I am trying to say is, all head covering should be banned. Once that door is opened to allow any head covering, it then becomes a matter of degrees. A question of, “how much is too much?”.

        Once the precedent has been set, to allow any headwear, it allows others, such as burka wearers, to come in and claim discrimination. They’ll claim that if scarf wearers are allowed, due to religious reasons, than burka wearers should have the same right. If not, it’s a form of discrimination.

  • evianalmighty

    They will soon be sued by cair and the entire state will have to take sensitivity classes. cair is a terrorist support group and loves Hezbollah and hamas.

    • Gary Rumain

      Yes, CAIR will pipe up about this in next to no time. Pressure cookers? Not so much.

  • DizzyMissL

    She is an idiot for making such a big deal of it.

  • Tessa

    How come the MA Bar didn’t look into Liz Warren practicing law without a license for 12 years?

  • Double_take_WTF_did_you_say

    I suspect that if she had followed the accommodation procedures as expected, she wouldn’t have found herself requesting the written authorization THE DAY BEFORE THE EXAM.

  • obamathefailure

    always danger when the religion of peace is involved

  • obamathefailure

    assimilate now

  • obamathefailure

    we are trying to ignore muzzies not bring attention to them but then again the BG is a liberal rag

  • Cynthia Astle

    What in the world is the matter with all you trolls? Have you no religious education at all? Would you ask a Catholic nun to remove her veil if she took the bar exam? Would you ask a Jewish man to remove his kippa (yarmulke) if he took the bar exam? For Muslim women, wearing hijab is a sign of modesty before God and humans. To ask this woman to remove her hijab is tantamount to religious AND sexual harassment, and I would support her if she chose to make more of a thing of it.

    FWIW I’m Christian and I would no more ask a Muslim woman to remove her hijab than I would stand for being told I must remove the cross I wear. Shame on all of you for such callousness! Educate yourselves about how decent, devout believers of all the world’s religions practice their faiths. Until then, be silent and quit revealing your stupidity.

    • Sam West

      If the rules state that there has to be a prior written approval for headwear that’s pretty clear. Want to wear your jihad uniform? Get that approval.

    • Hijab-Free and Loving It

      One can be modest without a hijab and a Christian can be Christian without wearing a cross. You unfortunately don’t understand that fact yet call others stupid! Yes, follow your own gospel and educate yourself!

      • Cynthia Astle

        And that doesn’t negate the fact that there are people who still practice the traditions of their faith and should be respected for it.

  • Jan Dumas

    She should have followed the procedures, and not expected special treatment. Reminds me of the woman who wanted two days to take the exam because she has ADD. Good to know her name, so I know who not to hire as an attorney. Should have asked her which laws she was planning on following, our country or her religion?

    • SCharlie

      What part of “confirmed that the woman taking the test Thursday had received pre-approval by the board” do you not understand? The Board director confirmed requests for approval are “common” the day before exams, which by my interpretation means “pre-approval.”

      BTW, the test taker’s name was never given so you may just luck upon her should you need an attorney one day.

  • Sam West

    How targeting because of religion became racial targeting? Race is not a choice and cannot be changed. Religion, on the other hand, is a personal choice. When such religion calls for death of unbelievers then by all means its practitoners should be at least investigated.

  • Jack

    jeeez did anyone bother to read the fact that she did in fact ask for approval and was granted one before the exam or do you base your entire argument around the damn headline ah the idiots that roam the earth nowadays