Halliburton Accused by Government of Harassing Muslim Workers

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By Patrick Dorrian

Halliburton failed to act as two Muslim workers in Northern Texas were regularly harassed about their religion by supervisors and co-workers, the federal government alleges in a lawsuit.

Hassan Snoubar and Mir Ali also were harassed and otherwise discriminated against because of their national origin, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission alleges in a July 3 complaint in federal court. Snoubar is from Syria, and Ali is from India. Both worked for Halliburton Energy Services Inc. as operator assistants, the EEOC says.

The lawsuit continues the agency’s crackdown on employer practices or other workplace behaviors that target workers who are Muslim or Sikh, or of Arab, Middle Eastern, or South Asian descent. Eliminating such discrimination is one of the federal job rights watchdog’s top enforcement priorities. The EEOC set that priority after it launched an interagency initiative with the Justice Department in March 2016 to combat religious bias and promote religious freedom in the workplace and other arenas.

The EEOC earlier had determined in the aftermath of the 9/11 terror attacks that special measures were needed to stamp out any backlash against workers who were or were perceived to be Muslim or Arab. It later reported that it observed a 250 percent increase in the number of religion-based discrimination charges involving Muslims in the initial months after 9/11 and that bias against such workers remained a problem 10 years later. The agency has issued separate guidance for employees and employers on the subject.

“This case should serve as a message that this kind of behavior will not be tolerated in the workplace,” EEOC Trial Attorney Joel Clark said in the agency’s July 3 statement announcing the lawsuit. “No one should have to arrive at the workplace and be taunted or persecuted for his religious beliefs or national origin.”

Halliburton declined to comment July 3.

Company Allegedly Fired One Worker for Complaining

The harassment included Snoubar’s being called a “camel jockey” and a supervisor asking Ali about his “magic carpet,” the EEOC alleges.

It also included regular broadcasts over the company’s radio headsets referring to them as terrorists and calling them other derogatory names, the agency says. The pair also were discriminated against in the assignment of jobs and workloads, the EEOC says.

The agency says Snoubar faced further discrimination after complaining about the mistreatment to Halliburton human resources personnel. The company at first suggested that he should transfer to another location but then “abruptly terminated” him before giving him a reasonable chance to consider that option, the EEOC says.

The case is EEOC v. Halliburton Energy Servs., Inc., N.D. Tex., No. 3:18-cv-01736, complaint filed 7/3/18.

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