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EEOC Sues Chicago Dealer for Harassing Muslim, Arab Employees

September 19, 2013

By Stephanie Forshee

CHICAGO — The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) filed a lawsuit Wednesday against Rizza Cadillac for its treatment of Muslim and Arab employees, charging it with “unlawful employment practices,” according to the indictment.

In July 2012, three employees of the Chicago-based dealership reportedly filed complaints with the EEOC, charging the employer with harassment. The EEOC charged Rizza Cadillac with subjecting a class of employees “to harassment because their race/national origin and their religion, Islam,” which the commission said violates the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

According to the suit, the EEOC attempted to reconcile with the dealer, but on Jan. 28, 2013, the EEOC “determined that the conciliation efforts required by law had occurred and were unsuccessful.”

The complaint claims that at least the three employees were harassed with offensive slurs including “terrorist” and “Hezbollah, as well as insulting references to the Qur’an.

“Rizza Cadillac failed to take prompt and effective action to stop and prevent the use of such slurs even though it received complaints about them from the above employees and from other Muslim and Arab employees; and b) many of the slurs were made in the presence of other managers, the owners of Rizza Cadillac and/or customers of Rizza Cadillac,” the complaint read.

The EEOC requests injunction, an order that the defendant carry out policies which provide equal employment opportunities for its workers regardless of religion or national origin, as well as compensation for the three employees who initiated the complaint.

Rizza Cadillac’s general manager did not immediately respond for comment.

John Rowe, director of the EEOC’s Chicago District Office, managed the administrative investigation leading up to the suit.

"Our investigation revealed that Rizza Cadillac failed to take prompt and effective measures to stop and prevent this abusive misconduct, as they were required to do so by federal law," Rowe stated in a press release.  "Employees should be judged by their performance, not their religion or ethnicity."

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