Press Release: Illinois Muslim Worker Files Bias Suit (AFI)
Employee Allegedly Called 'Terrorist,' Told He Would Be Shot
(CHICAGO, IL, 1/4/05) – The Chicago office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-Chicago) today announced that a Muslim worker of Pakistani origin in Illinois has filed a religious and national origin discrimination lawsuit against AFI Industries.
The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois (Eastern Division), alleges that other employees of AFI Industries called the Muslim plaintiff ”Terrorist #1,” “Al-Qaida” and Osama bin Laden’s “cousin.”
“Previous experience has shown that racial and religious profiling is not effective, bearing only negative repercussions on the profiled,” said Yaser Tabbara, Executive Director of CAIR-Chicago. “We ask that the Chicago Police Department maintain its commitment to a no-profiling policy.”
A supervisor allegedly told the plaintiff that the FBI and CIA were looking for him, that his home would be broken into and that he would be shot. The last comment was allegedly made while the supervisor made a gun shape of his hand and “fired” toward the plaintiff. The supervisor also allegedly asked the plaintiff if he was going to kill his co-workers.
Similar incidents of harassment continued despite what the lawsuit said were the plaintiff’s repeated objections to supervisors. In fact, the suit alleges that a company manager engaged in severe verbal abuse of the plaintiff when he received his complaints.
On March 3, 2003, the worker was terminated. On May 28, 2003, the Muslim employee filed a charge of religion and national origin discrimination with the EEOC.
The lawsuit announced today seeks reinstatement of the Muslim employee, back wages, as well as other compensatory and punitive damages.
“This case is particularly disturbing because supervisory personnel were allegedly involved in the discriminatory behavior,” said CAIR-Chicago Executive Director Yaser Tabbara.
“The plaintiff in this case suffered severe emotional distress as a result of the psychological abuse he suffered,” said attorney Kamran Memon, who is representing the Muslim worker. “We hope this lawsuit helps to educate American Muslims about their rights in the workplace.”
CAIR publishes a booklet, called “An Employer’s Guide to Islamic Religious Practices,” designed to prevent just such incidents. The booklet is available by e-mailing: firstname.lastname@example.org (Include name, address and phone number when requesting the booklet.)
CAIR, America’s largest Muslim civil liberties group, has 30 offices and chapters nationwide and in Canada. Its mission is to enhance understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.