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U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission



PRESS RELEASE
6-14-10

Four Points By Sheraton Sued By EEOC For National Origin Discrimination

Iraqi-American Employee Subjected to Ethnic Slurs and Mocking, Federal Agency Charged

PHOENIX -- The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission today  announced that it has filed a lawsuit  in federal court accusing hotel company TOG, which owns the Four Points by  Sheraton in Phoenix,  of discriminating against an employee by subjecting him to a hostile work  environment because of his Iraqi national origin. The EEOC also charged that by allowing the  continued and escalating workplace harassment, the defendants forced the  employee to resign.

According to the  EEOC’s suit, EEOC v. TOG Enterprises,  doing business as Four Points by Sheraton, et al., (Case No. CV-10-1230-PHX-SRB),  employee Basil Massih was subjected to unlawful harassment by the defendants because  of his Iraqi national origin. The alleged  harassment included mimicking Massih’s accent, ethnic slurs such as “camel  jockey,” mocking Arab ululations, and taunting  and jeering at Massih relating to news stories about Iraq and the capture of terrorists.  The EEOC alleges that Massih  complained to a number of managers about the national origin harassment, but  that management failed to take corrective action, and that the continued  harassment resulted in intolerable working conditions for Massih.

Such alleged national origin harassment violates Title VII of the Civil  Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits employment discrimination based on race,  color, religion, sex (including sexual harassment) and national origin.

“Employers have an  affirmative duty to protect employees from discrimination and harass­ment,” said  Mary Jo O’Neill, regional attorney for  the Phoenix District Office. “When a  company has notice of national origin harassment, it has a legal obligation to promptly  and effectively remedy the situation.”

Rayford  O. Irvin, acting director for the Phoenix District Office, said, “Title VII  provides that employees are entitled to work and keep their dignity. No employee should ever have to sacrifice his  or her identity in order to keep a job. National origin harassment wrongfully denies  employees equal opportunity in the workplace.”

The EEOC filed suit after first attempting to reach a voluntary  settlement out of court. The agency is  seeking monetary relief, including back wages, and compensatory and punitive  damages for Massih. The EEOC is also  seeking an injunction prohibiting future harassment and discrimination. Finally,  the agency seeks other equitable relief.

The EEOC is responsible for enforcing federal laws  against employment discrimination.  Further information is available at www.eeoc.gov.