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Harassment alleged by County Worker

On Behalf of | Jan 28, 2012 | Sexual Harassment

A harassment lawsuit filed by an employee of Sacramento County aclaims that he was subjected to religious and racial discrimination.

Abdur-Rahim Wasi, who is African American, started work at the Human Assistance Department.  His case, filed in Superior Court, says co-workers have called him names like “Osama Bin Laden,” “Taliban” and “Al-Qaida.”

Of course, the county denies all of his allegations and says it took reasonable steps to stop any harassment or discrimination.

Wasi claims county managers failed to stop the harassment, and mocked his concerns. A program manager allegedly wore an Arab head covering at a Halloween party after Wasi had filed a complaint, according to the lawsuit.

Wasi, who is seeking unspecified monetary damages, alleges the county has also failed to make reasonable accommodations to allow him to practice his faith.

Wasi wanted to leave work for an hour every third Friday to observe an Islamic ceremony, which he’s entitled to do under state law. Wasi was willing to work other hours to make up the time, but the county refused, even though at least one other county employee was granted a similar arrangement, the lawsuit states.

Wasi has taken several months of leave from work because of physical and psychological problems related to the harassment, according to the lawsuit.

In April 2006, Wasi said, several colleagues harassed him by a copy machine, saying he was a member of al-Qaida and the Taliban. He said he was worried that the repeated jokes would attract the attention of the FBI.

Two years later, Wasi said, a colleague gave him a memo purportedly written by a top county official, Bruce Wagstaff. The memo said Wasi was fired.

That same day, Wasi said, the same colleague gave him a county business card that changed his job title from Job Club Coordinator to “Job Club Assassinator.”

When he complained to a supervisor, Wasi said he was told the colleague was just joking with him.

In August 2010, Program Manager Dan Ortiz sent him an email denying his request, according to a copy of an email included in Wasi’s lawsuit.

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