Jury sides with Muslim guard in harassment case
A San Francisco jury has awarded $465,400 to a Muslim of African descent who quit his job as a security guard after a co-worker called him a “goddamn terrorist,” supervisors made racist comments and a top company official endorsed a statement that “Muslims kill people.”
The Superior Court jury found Thursday that Abas Idris’ employer, Andrews International, was responsible for harassment and a hostile work environment that forced Idris to resign, and awarded him $65,400 for lost wages and emotional distress. On Monday, the jury added $400,000 in punitive damages.
Idris, 27, said Tuesday he’s had other security jobs both before and after his 2 1/2-year stint with Andrews, but none in which “co-workers and superiors were referring to me as a terrorist or referring to me as al Qaeda.”
He said the court case allowed him to stand up for his rights and to make it clear that “Islam is a religion of peace.”
Andrews International, a worldwide security company based in Los Angeles, plans to appeal the verdict, attorney Madonna Herman said Tuesday.
“Andrews does not condone discrimination or harassment of any kind,” Herman said in a statement. She said the company promoted Idris to a supervisory position and accommodated his requests for schedule changes.
Idris, of Eritrean descent, was brought to the United States from Saudi Arabia by his parents when he was 2. He was hired by Andrews as a security officer at the Letterman Digital Arts Center in the Presidio in September 2010 and made $14 an hour.
Idris, represented by attorney Angela Alioto, said in his lawsuit that the office manager told him in January 2008 not to zip up his black rain jacket because he looked “too black,” and his supervisor told him a racist joke eight months later.
Later, Idris said, one supervisor told him that war was one of the “pillars of Islam,” and another said that “Muslims kill people,” particularly gays.
Idris said a co-worker told him about a January 2010 conversation with a fellow security officer who referred to Idris as a “goddamn terrorist” and added, “You can’t trust al Qaeda.”
Idris said no one took his complaints seriously. When the incidents were discussed at a supervisors’ meeting in February 2010, he said, the company’s regional director, Tom Dinnauer, described Idris as “a rat with an agenda” and said his supervisor, who had declared that Muslims kill people, “has a good point.”
Idris said he quit his job that month in fear for his safety.
E-mail Bob Egelko at email@example.com.
This article appeared on page C – 8 of the San Francisco Chronicle
Original post: Jury sides with Muslim guard in harassment case