Muslim Marriott Worker Called Terrorist Sues Hotel Chain

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By Madison Alder

A former employee of Marriott International said he was called a “terrorist” and discriminated against because he is a Muslim and the hotel chain failed to take action when he complained, according to a lawsuit filed July 11 ( Foday v. Marriott Int’l Inc. , S.D.N.Y., No. 17-cv-5214, 7/11/17 ).

Oumaru Foday, who was hired by Marriott in October 2004 as part of the company’s event services team, alleges he was subjected to discriminatory comments from two other Marriott employees about his race and religion. Over the course of four years, he was called a “terrorist,” “Muslim terrorist,” “Mandingo savage,” and “Mandingo rebel,” along with racial slurs, Foday says. Foday was born and raised in Monroeville, Liberia, according to the complaint, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.

It is the responsibility of employers to “fully and accurately” investigate any complaints brought to their attention, Paul Liggieri, an attorney at Derek Smith Law Group, the firm representing Foday, told Bloomberg BNA July 11. “Certainly one of the things employers should be doing is looking for employees who are repeat offenders and eliminating them.”

Marriott International wasn’t immediately available for comment on the lawsuit.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission recently highlighted reducing discrimination against Muslims as a priority in its strategic enforcement plan for fiscal years 2017 through 2021.

Company Took No ‘Meaningful Action’

Foday reported the harassment more than 10 times but no “meaningful action” was taken, he alleges. Foday was fired after engaging in a fight with one of the alleged harassers. The other employee wasn’t terminated, according to the lawsuit.

Foday says he has had “severe emotional distress and physical ailments” as a result of the harassment and that he wants his job back.

Liggieri noted the alleged harassment took place in New York City and that the city’s administrative code affords more protections than Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 or New York state law alone.

“It’s nice to know that the federal law and the New York law protect individuals irrespective of what what their religion or creed is,” Liggieri said. “It affords them the opportunity to believe what they want without having to be threatened by their employer with derogatory remarks.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Madison Alder in Washington at malder@bna.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Peggy Aulino at maulino@bna.com; Terence Hyland at thyland@bna.com; Chris Opfer at copfer@bna.com

Copyright © 2017 The Bureau of National Affairs, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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