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Jury sides with Muslim guard in harassment case

27 January 2012 General 14 Comments Email This Post Email This Post

Bob Egelko, Chronicle Staff Writer

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 begelko@sfchronicle.com.

This article appeared on page C – 8 of the San Francisco Chronicle

Original post: Jury sides with Muslim guard in harassment case

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14 Comments »

  1. Great, now they just won’t say it out loud. When will the establishment realize you can’t just pay off people and keep your racist bigoted thoughts to yourself and have any moral advancement.

  2. wow, just think how many more prison guards could have been hired for that much money.

  3. a very small victory, but it is a start.

  4. @Mike…so true. The offender and the entire company need to go thru Anti-Racism training for starters. It’s no cure, but it is a start at beginning to uproot the racist tendrils that have burrowed so deep into, if we are honest, most of our psyches. Because payouts only go so far to erase damage that’s been done to a person by such slander and layers resentment on the part of the offenders on top of their racist attitudes and behaviors.

  5. He was lucky to be in SF.

  6. “Muslims kill people.” No shit, Sherlock. So do Jews, Christians, atheists, blacks, whites, asians, gays, straights, trans…
    If you’re going to hate on a group, at least make some sense, dumbfuck.

  7. Sadly, I find this very easy to believe :p I have had friends who say stupid ignorant things and are convinced that it’s “common sense” wisdom instead of racism or bigotry.

  8. Racism is alive and well along with all other kinds of mindless emotional responses evoked by the ‘silent’ culture….

  9. I wonder how many children that could have fed… Is this the cure for our society?

  10. Is these posts pro or con? I am just not understanding.

  11. Cool :)

  12. Who cares how many children the 465,000 would have fed? Do you think the company was going to donate that money if they hadn’t been ordered to pay for violating this man’s civil rights? They probably wouldnt, Einstein

  13. f*ck the corporations.

  14. I hope as a Muslim he remembers the utmost importance of Zakah.

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