Incidents of harassment against Muslim and Arab employees have been on the rise, with virulent and racist epithets and slurs at the core.
On October 2, 2013 we reported on a national origin and religious discrimination case filing by the EEOC against a car dealership in Illinois, alleging a hostile work environment created against Muslim and Arab sales staff who were subjected offensive comments such as “terrorist,” “sand n—-r,” and “Hezbollah,” and insulting references to their prayer bahavior and the Qur’an.”
The company has now agreed to pay $100,000 to settle the case.
The EEOC’s Chicago District Regional Attorney said that “Such hostile conduct is both the worst type of negative stereotyping on the basis of national origin and religion and exactly what Title VII was designed to remedy. Protecting all employees – whether Arab or Muslim or any other national origin or religion – from such harassment is at the heart of our statutory mission.”
We have noted other cases of offensive, ethnic slurs against Muslims. On February 12, 2013, we posted about a case out of Texas of a 51-year-old Muslim-American of Palestinian ethnic origin, who claimed that three to four times per week his boss called him “towelhead,” “raghead,” “rock thrower,” “sand nigger,” “terrorist,” “fucking Palestinian,” “shithead” or “fucking Muslim.” He complained to his finance director and was fired, and then sued alleging, among other things, a hostile work environment based on religion and national origin.
The company argued, among other things, that these comments were not of a frequent and continuous nature, and so the alleged harassment was not severe or pervasive enough to affect a term, condition, or privilege of his employment.
The Court, however, denied the company’s summary judgment motion, and found that the ethnic and religious comments were severe and frequent, and that the employee presented testimony that because of it the work place felt “like a ‘war zone.’”
Takeaway: Severe racial harassment, or harassment based upon national origin or religion, is not going to be tolerated by the EEOC.