9/11 Ushered In Years Of Religious Harassment For California Public Worker

A Muslim man employed with Sacramento County claims in a lawsuit filed in Sacramento County Superior Court that he has been called a variety of names associated with terrorism—“Osama bin Laden,” “Taliban” and “al-Qaeda”—ever since the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. McClatchy Newspapers reported on January 4, 2012, that Wasi—who is African-American—said in his complaint that he considers the September 11 attacks criminal and the “mass murder of innocent people.”

According to McClatchy, Wasi claims county managers not only failed to stop the harassment, but in one case mocked his concern when a program manager wore an Arab head covering to a Halloween party after Wasi had filed a complaint. He also alleges that the county has failed to make reasonable accommodations to allow him to practice his faith by refusing to allow him to leave work for an hour every third Friday to observe an Islamic ceremony. Wasi is entitled to do so under state law and McClatchy noted he was even willing to work other hours to make up the time, but the lawsuit states the county refused even though at least one other county employee was granted a similar arrangement.

Rachel Roberts, Northern California civil rights coordinator for the Council of American Islamic Relations, told McClatchy, “We’ve seen an uptick in employment discrimination around the country, including the Sacramento Valley, since 9/11.” While Roberts said religious-accommodation issues were resolved when they have arisen in the past, the Wasi case is the only one CAIR is aware of in which a Muslim county employee is alleging discrimination at work.

The September 11 attacks happened more than a decade ago, meaning that Wasi has been enduring this type of behavior from his co-workers for more than 10 years. How long would you be willing to tolerate such treatment before taking legal action?

Law Offices of Kesluk, Silverstein & Jacob – Los Angeles employment lawyers