The federal government sued a suburban Chicago school district yesterday for denying a Muslim middle-school teacher unpaid leave to make a pilgrimage to Mecca that is central to her religion.

In a civil-rights case, the department said the school district in Berkeley, Ill., denied the request of Safoorah Khan on grounds that her requested leave was unrelated to her professional duties and was not set forth in the contract between the school district and the teachers' union. In doing so, the school district violated the Civil Rights Act of 1964 by failing to reasonably accommodate her religious practices, the government said.

Khan started as a middle school teacher for Berkeley School District 87 - about 15 miles west of Chicago - in 2007.

- Associated Press