Employment discrimination can come in many forms. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 specifically outlaws workplace discrimination based on a person’s race, color, religion, sex and national origin. Furthermore, discrimination due to a woman’s pregnancy or childbirth is illegal under the category of sex discrimination. Most discrimination cases involve one particular type of discrimination, however a recent case out of Washington, D.C. involves several different types of discrimination, including race, national origin, religion, and pregnancy.
Ashraf-Hassan v Embassy of France
Saima Ashraf-Hassan is a Muslim who was born in Pakistan, though grew up in France and is a French citizen. She worked for the French Embassy in the United States full-time from 2002 to 2007. During the entire course of her employment, she was the victim of several different types of discrimination by her various supervisors.
The following are some examples of discriminatory behavior she suffered while working at the Embassy:
-Her supervisors repeatedly questioned her about her race, religion, and national origin.
-They asked her if she was from the same town as the 9/11 terrorists.
-They waved a newspaper article about terrorists at her and referred to the terrorists as “her people.”
-When she announced her pregnancy, her boss scolded her and stated she should have used condoms or birth control.
-She was fired for “failing to earn the trust” of her supervisor by becoming pregnant after accepting the job, but returned to work after appealing her termination to the Ambassador and Secretary General.
-She was not informed of important meetings, expected to do the work of other employees, denied deserved vacation time, and was not invited to company sponsored events.
-When a coworker asked why they hired terrorists, her supervisor smiled and nodded.
-Another boss stated he hated Pakistanis and asked why she was not working for the Pakistan Embassy.
-That boss also referred to her and her children as “dogs.”
-Her supervisors regularly referred to her as the “Pasthun,” even though she is not Pashtun. The employee took this as a slur to associate her with the Taliban.
-An email stated her boss never wanted to see her face again and that she should be confined in a box room for interns.
-She was then transferred to the small room used for interns and had all of her computer and phone privileges taken from her.
-The Embassy then opted not to renew her contract and she was replaced by a white French intern.
Overall, the court found possible claims for discrimination based on her religion, race, national origin, sex, and pregnancy. The court stated that a jury could easily find the treatment and discrimination to be both severe and offensive, and allowed all of her claims to advance.
No one should have to suffer discriminatory treatment at work. If you have been the victim of discrimination, the employment attorneys at HKM can help you.