A Muslim prison guard is suing the state, claiming his bosses violated his rights by barring him from praying and wearing a skullcap at work.
Dawoud Kareem Muhammad, a seven-year employee at Grafton Correctional Institution, filed the claim in U.S. District Court in Cleveland.
"All I ask is that I have a little spot so I can say my prayers and not be harassed about it," Muhammad said. "If you can allow people to have smoke breaks, why can't I have a break to pray?"
A spokesman for the state prison system declined to comment.
Muhammad began working at the prison in 1994, and soon after became a devout Muslim, changing his name from Dani Bowens.
Prison officials told Muhammad in July 1999 that he could not wear a skullcap under his uniform hat, even though employees were allowed to wear crucifixes under their uniforms, the lawsuit says.
In the Islamic faith, a person must pray five times a day. For a time, Muhammad prayed in a closet at work, but when officials found out, they changed the lock, according to the suit.