$50,000 Settlement in National Origin Discrimination Lawsuit Against Hotel

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

The owner of a Four Points by Sheraton hotel in Phoenix will pay $50,000 and furnish other relief to settle a national origin discrimination lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).

The EEOC lawsuit accused the hotel company TOG, which owned the Four Points by Sheraton in Phoenix, of discriminating against an employee by subjecting him to a hostile work environment because of his Iraqi national origin.  The EEOC also charged that by allowing the continued and escalating workplace harassment, the defendants forced the employee to resign.  The EEOC and TOG settled this case for $50,000 for Mr. Basil Massih and a Consent Decree. The Federal Court Judge signed the Decree today, which contains an injunction, training, posting, policy changes, and reporting to the EEOC.

According to the EEOC’s suit, employee Basil Massih was subjected to unlawful harassment by the defendants because of his Iraqi national origin.  The alleged harassment included mimicking Massih’s accent and mocking Arab vocal expressions; ethnic slurs such as “camel jockey”; and taunting and jeering at Massih relating to news stories about Iraq and the capture of terrorists.  The EEOC alleged that Massih complained to a number of managers about the national origin harassment, but that management failed to take corrective action, and that the continued harassment resulted in intolerable working conditions for Massih. 

Such alleged national origin harassment violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits employment discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex (including sexual harassment) and national origin.  The EEOC filed suit (EEOC v. TOG Enterprises, doing business as Four Points by Sheraton, et al., Case No. CV-10-1230-PHX-DAE) after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.

The consent decree signed Friday settling the suit provides monetary relief, including back wages and compensatory damages for Massih in the amount of $50,000.  It also contains an injunction prevention any further such discrimination; training; posting of notices about the settlement; policy changes; and reporting to the EEOC.

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