Muslim Employee Subjected to Hateful and Derogatory Harassment, Agency Charges
PHOENIX - A Phoenix aeronautical services company violated federal law by subjecting an employee to a hostile work environment because of his Middle Eastern/Arab national origin and because he is Muslim, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission charged in a lawsuit it filed yesterday.
According to the EEOC's suit, EEOC v. Swift Aviation Group, et al. (Case No. 2:12-cv-01867-MHB), Swift Aviation Group, which operates a private air terminal at Sky Harbor Airport in Phoenix, subjected Adam Donmez to unlawful harassment because of his Turkish/Palestinian national origin and because he is Muslim. The alleged harassment included statements such as "I don't know why we don't just kill all them towelheads," asking Donmez why he was "dressed like [he was] gonna blow up the World Trade Center" and derogatory jokes about Arabs. The EEOC alleges that Donmez reported the harassment to supervisors and that management was aware that Donmez and other Middle Eastern employees had been subjected to harassment, but failed to stop it. The federal agency also said that the continued harassment resulted in intolerable working conditions for Donmez, forcing him to quit.
Harassment based on national origin or religion violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The EEOC filed suit after first attempting to reach a voluntary settlement through its conciliation process. The agency's suit seeks monetary relief, including back wages, and compensatory and punitive damages for Donmez. The EEOC also seeks an injunction prohibiting future harassment and discrimination, and other equitable relief.
"Employees, including Middle Eastern, Arab and Muslim employees, have a right to work in an environment free from discrimination and harassment," said Regional Attorney Mary Jo O'Neill of the EEOC's Phoenix District Office. "Employers have a legal obligation to take prompt, effective remedial action to stop ethnic and religious harassment and to prevent stereotypes about ethnic or religious groups from causing unlawful misconduct in the workplace."
EEOC District Director Rayford O. Irvin said, "Federal law protects employees from national origin and religious harassment. Employees should not dread going to work because they are being subjected to ethnic or religious harassment that robs them of their dignity and compromises their health and well-being."
Swift Aviation is an FBO, or fixed base operator, located at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport. Swift Aviation provides aeronautical services such as fueling and hangaring aircraft, aircraft sales, chartering of aircraft, aircraft maintenance, and amenities for flight crews and passengers. The company is headquartered in Phoenix.
The EEOC's Phoenix District has jurisdiction over Arizona, Colorado, Wyoming, Utah, and part of New Mexico (including Albuquerque).
The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information is available at www.eeoc.gov.