Press Release: CAIR-Chicago Files Federal Complaint on Behalf of Palestinian Muslim

(CHICAGO, IL, 8/20/09) The Chicago office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-Chicago) announced today that it has filed a complaint in federal court on behalf of a Palestinian Muslim man who claims to have suffered discrimination and wrongful termination by his employer, U.S. Foodservice Inc.

The man, who worked as a Territory Manager, was formerly employed at the company’s Memphis branch where he was allegedly subjected to derogatory remarks based on his Palestinian origin. To escape these hardships he transferred to the Chicago office, where he instead faced discriminatory work conditions. In Chicago, the Muslim man was supposed to receive commission-based bonuses in addition to his base salary. Despite opening new accounts and reviving others, the plaintiff received no bonuses. Even more problematic, he was given substantially less and lower-producing accounts compared to co-workers, setting him up for failure.

In one incident the man overheard his co-worker and manager discussing how he should not be introduced to a potential client – a Jewish nursing home- claiming that “a white person” should be taken instead.

In December, 2008, the plaintiff was fired, purportedly for not increasing sales numbers. The man claims this is a fictitious reason, when he was not given a fair opportunity to perform well enough in the position.

“Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 mandates that employers maintain non-discriminatory work conditions,” said CAIR-Chicago Staff Attorney Kevin Vodak. “In a pluralistic society that honors equal opportunity, it is unacceptable that one should have to endure such discrimination on the basis of religion or national origin.”

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) issued a right to sue notice on May 26, 2009.

CAIR-Chicago is a chapter of America’s largest Muslim civil rights group, which has 33 offices and chapters nationwide and in Canada. Its mission is to promote justice, enhance the understanding of Islam, and empower American Muslims.

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CONTACT: Amina Sharif, Communications Coordinator, CAIR-Chicago, E-Mail: asharif@cair.com; 312.212.1520 or 630.935.5562; Kevin Vodak, Attorney, CAIR-Chicago, E-Mail: civilrights@cairchicago.org; 312.212.1520.