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Former Exxon Employees Challenge Discrimination Against Arabs and Muslims

This press release was prepared by the law offices of Katz, Marshall & Banks, LLP.
Washington, DC | October 6, 2007 | www.adc.org | On Monday evening, November 5, 2007, three Muslim former employees filed a $12 million lawsuit against ExxonMobil Corporation in the United States District Court for the District of Delaware, complaining of discrimination, harassment, and retaliation based on race, religion, and national origin. To read the complaint, please visit: https://www.adc.org/uploads/media/Exxon_Complaint_11-5-07_01.pdf
The suit alleged that three employees of an Exxon station on the Delaware Turnpike — Sofiene Romdhani, an Arab Muslim originally from Tunisia, and Michelle Maloney and Bobbi Joe Zeller, who had both converted to Islam — suffered persistent racial and religious harassment and discrimination at the hands of Exxon supervisors. The suit alleged that the plaintiffs and other Muslim and Arab employees at the station were subjected to racist graffiti and a steady barrage of anti-Muslim comments by management officials, who vowed to rid the station of all Muslims employees. The suit further alleged that Exxon‘s headquarters ignored repeated complaints of discrimination from Muslim employees at the station and failed to perform a timely investigation. Ultimately, the suit alleged, two of the three plaintiffs were forced to resign because they could not tolerate the harassment and abuse, while the third was suddenly terminated on the same day she complained about managers viewing pornography in the workplace.
The Delaware Department of Labor, following a lengthy investigation, issued a decision in Mr.Romdhani‘s favor, concluding that “witnesses corroborated [Mr. Romdhani‘s] allegations that he was continually subjected to harassment by his supervisor in regards to his religious beliefs and national origin” and that Mr. Romdhani “has established that illegal national origin and religious discrimination occurred.” Ms. Maloney‘s and Ms. Zeller‘s charges are still being processed by the Department of Labor.
The plaintiffs are represented by the civil rights law firms of Katz, Marshall & Banks in Washington, D.C., and Martin & Wilson in Wilmington, Delaware. According to Avi Kumin, a partner at Katz, Marshall & Banks representing the former employees, “Mr. Romdhani, Ms. Maloney, and Ms. Zeller have filed suit to hold ExxonMobil accountable for the racial and religious discrimination to which they were subjected. Such racist and discriminatory actions should not be tolerated, and ExxonMobil cannot continue to ignore its legal obligations to ensure a workplace free of unlawful harassment.”
Kareem Shora, National Executive Director for the Arab-American Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) which was initially contacted with the allegations, commented: “In this day and age, it is unacceptable for employers to continue to discriminate against their employees in the fashion alleged with this case. We hope that Mr. Romdhani, Ms. Maloney, and Ms. Zeller are successful in vindicating their fundamental right to be free of harassment and discrimination in the workplace.” Shora added, “Discrimination should not be tolerated in any environment, and those who engage in such unlawful action, regardless of industry or work environment, must be held accountable in a court of law.”
For More Information, please contact: Avi L. Kumin; Katz, Marshall & Banks, LLP, 202-299-1140.
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NOTE TO EDITORS: The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC), which is non sectarian and non partisan, is the largest Arab-American civil rights organization in the United States. It was founded in 1980, by former Senator James Abourezk to protect the civil rights of people of Arab descent in the United States and to promote the cultural heritage of the Arabs. ADC has 38 chapters nationwide with chapters in every major city in the country, and members in all 50 states.
The ADC Research Institute (ADC-RI), which was founded in 1981, is a Section 501(c)(3) educational organization that sponsors a wide range of programs on behalf of Arab Americans and of importance to all Americans. ADC-RI programs include: research studies, seminars, conferences and publications that document and analyze the discrimination faced by Arab Americans in the workplace, schools, media, and governmental agencies and institutions. ADC-RI also celebrates the rich cultural heritage of the Arabs.
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Contact: Laila Al-Qatami | ADC Communications Director
American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee | www.adc.org
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