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Bryant Whitten, LLP

Northern California harassment suit - Muslim guard gets $465K

A San Franscico jury found harassment of a Muslim security gaurd and awarded him $465,000.  The guard says co-workers and supervisors called him a terrorist and a member of al-Qaida.

The jury added $400,000 in punitive damages Monday to their award of $65,000 to Abas Idris for lost wages and emotional distress.

In essence, the jury found that Andrews International failed to prevent harassment and a hostile work environment experienced by Idris.  This means the company should have done a better job investigating his complaints.

Madonna Herman, an attorney for Andrews, said the company had promoted Idris to a supervisory position and accommodated his requests for changes to his schedule. He also said the company will appeal the verdict.  Obviously, and employer must do more than just move an employee who complains.

"Andrews does not condone discrimination or harassment of any kind," Herman said in a statement.  This is fairly typical of a company that just lost a trial.

Idris claimed a supervisor told him that Muslims kill people and that a fellow security guard referred to him in a conversation with a co-worker as a "goddamn terrorist" and an al Qaeda member who couldn't be trusted.  If true, this is severe or pervasive harassment.

Idris, who traces his heritage to the east African nation of Eritrean, also said an office manager once told him not to zip up his black rain jacket because he looked "too black." 

Idris said he quit his job at Andrews in February 2010 after the company failed to take his complaints seriously.

It is hard to believe this kind of discrimiantion still exists.  Big companies should train managers and supervisors to take corrective action immediately.

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