Just doing your job can be tough if you're Muslim

Seems like one of these discrimination suits comes along every few months - and goodness knows what all goes on that never gets to the litigation stage. In this latest case, four Muslim men of Arab descent say they were fired from their managerial jobs at IHOP locations in Texas because of their ethnicity and religion. From the Dallas Observer:

In the suit, filed Tuesday in federal court, Hussein Chamseddine claims that despite receiving consistently positive performance reviews, he and three other men, Rami Saleh, Brandon Adam and Chekri Bakro, were all fired over the course of less than a year from the IHOPs they managed in Plano, Fort Worth, Arlington and Burleson. All of them were replaced by white, non-Muslim managers. Chamseddine says his replacement, Larry Hawker, told about 20 other managers at a meeting in March 2010 that "Arab men treat women poorly and with disrespect[;] we're going to let these people go and have new faces coming in." All the other plaintiffs say they overheard those remarks, the suit claims. One of them, Rami Saleh, was fired just weeks later for an "alleged incident" while he was counseling a female employee over a mistake she'd made.

Back in 2010, a Muslim woman who worked as a hostess at a Disney-owned restaurant said her employers repeatedly sent her home without pay for refusing to remove her headscarf at work. That same year, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission sued a Four Points by Sheraton hotel in Phoenix, alleging that management created a hostile work environment in which workers called an Iraqi immigrant a "camel jockey." From ther NYT in 2010:

"There's a level of hatred and animosity that is shocking," said Mary Jo O'Neill, regional attorney of the E.E.O.C.'s Phoenix office. "I've been doing this for 31 years, and I've never seen such antipathy toward Muslim workers." Although Muslims make up less than 2 percent of the United States population, they accounted for about one-quarter of the 3,386 religious discrimination claims filed with the E.E.O.C. last year. Complaints filed by Jews rose slightly in fiscal 2009, while complaints filed by Catholics, Protestants, Sikhs and Seventh-day Adventists declined. Claims of race, sex and age discrimination also fell.

As for the most recent case, Glendale-based IHOP said this in a statement:

"We believe the employment practices of our company and our independent franchisees are non-discriminatory and inclusive. We have a long history of supporting diversity in all aspects of our business. Our franchisee believes the allegations are without merit and looks forward to the fair conclusion of this matter."

Keep in mind that the Texas IHOP franchises are owned and operated by Anthraper Investments, a management and investment company. Still, it's only IHOP that everybody will be remembering, not Anthraper Investments.

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Mark Lacter
Mark Lacter created the LA Biz Observed blog in 2006. He posted until the day before his death on Nov. 13, 2013.
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