by Sheri Urban
Spc. Cesilia Valdovinos was demoted this week after she was caught breaking U.S. Army regulations.
Female members of the Army are required to put their hair in a bun for safety reasons. Cesilia was caught repeatedly wearing her hair down under her hijab, despite warnings, so she was demoted.
Now Valdovinos plans to sue the Army over a violation of her civil rights. She says she is a victim of religious discrimination.
The Army Times reported:
Following a rejected equal opportunity complaint and a demotion in rank, a Muslim soldier who has accused her Fort Carson, Colorado, leadership of religious discrimination is contemplating a federal lawsuit, her attorney confirmed to Army Times on Wednesday.
Spc. Cesilia Valdovinos, who was demoted this week following an unrelated Article 15 investigation, will file a complaint alleging violation of her civil rights either in northern Virginia or Denver, according to Mikey Weinstein, founder of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation.
“This is a pattern and practice of anti-Muslim bigotry, prejudice and harassment,” he said.
The 26-year-old culinary specialist’s story first went viral in mid-March, after she filed an EO complaint with her command based on an incident with her command sergeant major at the 704th Transportation Battalion.
The senior noncommissioned officer, believing that Valdovinos was wearing her hair down underneath her hijab ― rather than in a bun, per regulation ― demanded the soldier remove the head covering,
Her hair fell to her shoulders, Valdovinos told Army Times, because she uses the extra fabric in the cap to secure her bun. When she removes it, the bun falls out.
Army sources completely dispute her claims:
From Business Insider:
The Army “has not taken any adverse actions against Spc. Valdovinos in response to the wear of any religious garment, her equal opportunity complaint, or the resulting media attention,” Zinn told Task & Purpose.
“The senior non-commissioned officer acted appropriately by enforcing the proper wear of the hijab, in compliance with Army Regulations,” Zinn added.
Army Capt. Brooke Smith, who was reportedly present during Valdinovos’ and Montoya’s exchange, told Army Times that “[u]pon removing her hijab it was evident her hair was completely down … CSM Montoya told her to get her hair back in regulation and not let it happen again. At no point did CSM Montoya touch the soldier or yell at her (at all or within earshot of other soldiers).”
So she broke the rules, and now wants to play the victim. Is anyone surprised by this?