An Iraqi man was subjected to months of bigoted, insulting statements by his boss at a Valley Sheraton hotel, federal officials allege in a lawsuit filed today.
Two years after starting work as an executive chef at the Four Points by Sheraton Phoenix North at Metrocenter, Basil Massih's supervisors began making near-daily insults about Massih's ethnicity, according to the lawsuit filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
Larry Shore, then the hotel's banquet captain, called Massih a "camel jockey," mimicked his accent, and mocked the sound of the Middle Eastern tongue, talked of killing Arabs, and questioned Massih's patriotism, among other offensive comments. This went on for almost a year, from the start of 2006 until October of that year, the EEOC claims.
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Shore also "motivated" two banquet-servers to harass Massih by mocking his accent, says the EEOC. Complaints to upper-level managers by Massih reportedly fell on deaf ears.
"Clearly, we wouldn't have filed the lawsuit if we didn't believe what [Massih] was saying," says Sally Shanly, a supervisory trial attorney with the EEOC's Phoenix district. "That's the kind of behavior we are all surprised goes on today, but it does. It's one of the reasons we're still in business."
Shore, now a night auditor for the hotel, could not be reached. Hotel staff had no comment.
The EEOC want a permanent injunction against the hotel that would prohibit similar behavior, plus back pay and punitive damages for Massih.