Moroccan/Palestinian Muslims Subjected to Offensive Comments, Federal Agency Charged
WASHINGTON, D.C. – A Washington, DC-based steak and seafood restaurant violated federal law by subjecting two employees to a hostile work environment based on their religion and national origin, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit filed today. According to the EEOC’s complaint, Faissal Chtaiti, who is Moroccan and Hilal Suboh, who is Palestinian, were subjected to harassment based on their religion and national origin by Deauville, Inc. d/b/a Monocle Restaurant ("Monocle Restaurant"). Both men are Muslim.
Chtaiti and Suboh were both employed as waiters at the Monocle Restaurant located at 107 D Street, NE, Washington, DC. The EEOC charged that from around December 2004 through at least December 2007, Chtaiti and Suboh were harassed by the restaurant's General Manager. According to the EEOC, the harassment included derogatory comments such as referring to the men as "Arab dog," “stupid Muslim" and "crazy Muslim.” The General Manager also made comments like "go back to the Sahara because it’s better for you Arabs with the camels," and “Palestinians should learn how to handle the [expletive] Jews,” according to the EEOC's complaint.
National origin and religion harassment violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The EEOC filed suit (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. Deauville, Inc. d/b/a Monocle Restaurant, Civ. No. 1:10-cv-00586, in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia), after first attempting to reach a voluntary settlement.
The EEOC seeks monetary damages for both Chtaiti and Suboh. The suit also seeks an injunction to prevent Monocle Restaurant from engaging in any employment practice that discriminates on the basis of national origin or religion.
“Employers must remember that harassment based on national origin and religion, like race harassment, is against the law,” said Lynette A. Barnes, regional attorney for the EEOC’s Charlotte District Office which oversees litigation filed by the agency in Washington, D.C. “Companies should have in place a policy that prohibits national origin and religion harassment, as well as a procedure for victims and witnesses to report it and for the employer to promptly respond to and rectify it."
The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about the EEOC is available on the agency’s web site at www.eeoc.gov.