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PRESS RELEASE
10-16-09

Sunbelt Rentals to Pay Damages to Muslim Worker Harassed Due to Islamic Religion

National Commercial Rental Company Settles EEOC Suit on Verge of Trial

BALTIMORE – A Charlotte, N.C.-based equipment rental company will pay $64,641 to settle a religious harassment lawsuit brought by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) just days before the case was scheduled for a jury trial, the agency announced today. The EEOC had sued Sunbelt Rentals, Inc., the nationwide commercial rental company, on behalf of a Muslim worker who was allegedly discriminated against because of his Islamic faith at a company facility in Gaithersburg, Md.

In its suit (EEOC v. Sunbelt Rentals, Inc., Civil Action No. PJM 04-cv-2978) in U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland, the EEOC charged that Clinton Ingram was subjected to derogatory comments and slurs based on his religion, Islam. The comments, according to the EEOC, included suggestions that Ingram might be a terrorist because he is Muslim. The suit alleged that various other hostile incidents were also directed at Ingram because of his religion, such as subjecting him to an anti-Muslim cartoon. The lawsuit settled just a few days before it was scheduled to go to trial.

In addition to paying over $64,000 in compensatory damages to Ingram, Sunbelt must also take other actions set forth in the consent decree resolving the case, including providing anti-discrimination training to its Gaithersburg staff and posting a notice about the settlement. Further, the company is enjoined from engaging in religious harassment and must report complaints of religious harassment at its Gaithersburg facility to the EEOC for monitoring.

“Religious discrimination is an escalating problem in the American workplace,” said Lynette A. Barnes, regional attorney for the EEOC’s Charlotte District Office. “Under federal law, employers are required to take reasonable steps to prevent harassment. The EEOC will continue to actively prosecute cases where an employee is subjected to discriminatory treatment based on religion.”

The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting discrimination in employment. Further information about the EEOC is available on its web site at www.eeoc.gov.