The ACLU of Kansas has named a new summer fellowship for a plaintiff who waged a courageous religious discrimination lawsuit and donated the proceeds to the civil liberties/civil rights organization.

The affiliate announced the decision to name its law student fellowship after Munir Zanial during the organization’s third Free State Forum event Oct. 5 in Topeka.

“Mr. Zanial has been courageous and pure-intentioned throughout this process,” said Lauren Bonds, the affiliate’s legal director and the lawyer who filed the lawsuit. “The case was emotionally taxing for his family and he sacrificed a lot to come forward. Rather than use the money for a family vacation or some other form of self-care, Mr. Zanial wants to donate the damage award to us so that we could help other people facing discrimination.”

Settlement proceeds, the amount of which remain confidential per the settlement, will help fund the fellowship stipends for students, Bonds said.

The ACLU of Kansas filed a complaint in March 2018 against the Spirit/Boeing Employees’ Association (SBEA) for racial profiling and religious discrimination against Zanial based on allegations that SBEA reported him to his employer as a possible ISIS supporter, caused him to be investigated by the FBI, and cancelled his membership after he hosted a party celebrating Malaysian Independence Day at SBEA’S lake.
 

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