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Abstract

Should employees have the legal right to “be themselves” at work? Most Americans would answer in the negative because work is a privilege, not an entitlement. But what if being oneself entails behaviors, mannerisms, and values integrally linked to the employee’s gender, race, or religion? And what if the basis for the employer’s workplace rules and professionalism standards rely on negative racial, ethnic or gender stereotypes that disparately impact some employees over others? Currently, Title VII fails to take into account such forms of second-generation discrimination, thereby limiting statutory protections to phenotypical or morphological bases. Drawing on social psychology and antidiscrimination literature, this Article argues that in order for courts to keep up with discrimination they should expansively interpret Title VII to address identity-based discrimination rooted in negative implicit stereotypes of low status groups. In doing so, the Article brings to the forefront Muslim women’s identity performance at the intersection of religion, race, gender, and ethnicity—a topic marginalized in the performativity literature. I argue that Muslim female employees at the intersection of conflicting stereotypes and contradictory identity performance pressures associated with gender, race, and religion are caught in a triple bind that leaves them worse off irrespective of their efforts to accommodate or reject coercive assimilationism at work.