|  
  |  
  |  
  |  
  |  
  |  
  |  
  |  
17 April 2014, Thursday
 
 
Today's Zaman
 
 
 
 

AT&T to pay Muslim woman $5M in harassment case

6 May 2012, Sunday /AP
A former Kansas City woman who converted to Islam in 2005 said she was harassed for years at AT&T, and that the abuse boiled over in 2008 when her boss snatched her head scarf and exposed her hair.

A Jackson County jury on Thursday awarded Susann Bashir $5 million in punitive damages in her discrimination lawsuit against the telephone company, along with $120,000 in lost wages and other actual damages.

The Kansas City Star newspaper reported Saturday that the award appears to be the largest jury verdict for a workplace discrimination case in Missouri history.

Bashir said in court documents that her work environment became hostile immediately after she converted, with her co-workers making harassing comments about her religion and referring to her hijab as "that thing on her head."

"I was shocked. I thought, 'What is going on?'" she told the newspaper. "Nobody ever cared what I wore before. Nobody ever cared what religion I was before."

Bashir worked at AT&T's office in Kansas City for 10 years as a fiber optics network builder before being fired from her $70,000-a-year job. She claimed she endured religious discrimination nearly every day of the final three years she worked there, including being asked if she was going to blow up the building and being called a "towelhead" and a terrorist.

AT&T said Friday it disagrees with the verdict and plans to appeal.

Despite the jury's award, Bashir stands to receive much less than $5 million because Missouri law caps such awards at five times the actual damage amount, plus attorney fees.

Amy Coopman, Bashir's lawyer, said attorney fees will be determined later by the judge.

The previous largest such verdict came in 2009, when Mohamed Alhalabi, an Arab-American Muslim, was awarded $811,949 in St. Louis County Circuit Court in a case against the Missouri Department of Natural Resources.

That same year, a Jonesboro, Arkansas, jury ordered AT&T to pay $1.3 million to two former employees fired for attending a Jehovah's Witnesses convention.

 Bashir said she called an employee help line in March 2005 and asked the company to provide sensitivity training for her co-workers. "It was a worthless call," she said. "Nothing ever changed."

The harassment continued and in March 2008, the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission launched an investigation after she filed a complaint. She said that made some workers angry and led to the final encounter with her boss.

Bashir said she became so stressed out that she couldn't return to work. She asked that her boss be removed or that she be transferred, but neither happened. She was fired after not returning to work for nine months.

"By firing me, they stole my ability to work at a job I liked," Bashir said.

She said the incident was hard on her mentally and physically and tore her family apart. She is going through a divorce, and in October she and her daughter moved to Anchorage, Alaska, where she works as an apartment manager. 

 
 
WORLD  Other Titles
Australian premier's resignation as a sign of less, not more, corruption
UK PM's former media aide tells court he heard hacked messages
Aussie state premier's resignation a sign of less, not more, graft
Post, Guardian win Pulitzers for NSA revelations
Nigeria vows to protect May's ‘African Davos' in bomb-hit capital
Berlusconi ordered to do community service for tax conviction
Doctor to be tried in Britain's first female genital mutilation court case
Prosecutor wraps up Oscar Pistorius' grilling in murder trial
Syria opposition claims has evidence of chlorine gas attack
Egypt woman prof. targets young in bid to save Brotherhood
China seizes more than 10,000 illegal guns in crackdown
Macedonians vote for new president as general election nears
Complaints of serious fraud in Afghan polls exceed total in 2009
Indonesian parties in pact, clear way for top presidential candidate
UN climate panel warns emissions rising, blurs reason
Biden to visit Kiev to show US support for Ukraine unity
Iran rejects naming new United Nations envoy after US refusal
Death toll in fighting between Syrian rivals rises to 68
Venezuelan leader meets opposition
Egyptian police say kill two Brotherhood members in shootout
Murdered girl's mom says News of the World was force for good
Prosecutor, defense urge community service for Berlusconi
US health secretary quits over Obamacare
At least 10 dead when truck slams students bus in California
International students celebrate Prophet Muhammad in Gaziantep
...
Bloggers