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A high-ranking Lebanese-American executive at Advanced Micro Devices Inc., who accused the company’s two top officers of sabotaging his career shortly after Sept. 11, 2001, will have his day in court. In a 20-page order released Monday, U.S. District Judge Jeremy Fogel ruled that there are sufficient grounds for a jury to determine whether AMD discriminated against Walid Maghribi because he was a Muslim and an Arab, creating working conditions that effectively forced him to quit his job as president of the company’s memory division. “Conceivably demeaning comments made to plaintiff by his superiors about his race and religion, and the allegation that defendant undermined completely plaintiff’s executive authority, particularly in the highly sensitive context of the Sept. 11 attacks, amount to more than a description of ‘mere stress’ and are adequate to support a Title VII claim,” wrote Fogel. Judge Fogel’s ruling, which denied AMD’s motion for summary judgment, means a trial is set to begin Aug. 25. “Some cases can be resolved at summary judgment, some need to go to a jury,” said Lynne Hermle, a partner at Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe, who is representing AMD. “We very much look forward to having the jury hear our evidence, which is extremely compelling.” She said that the company is looking forward to vindication and that a settlement was “extremely unlikely.” Allen Ruby of San Jose’s Ruby & Schofield, who is representing Maghribi, called Fogel’s decision “the right ruling.” Ruby said he has not calculated the amount of punitive and compensatory damages his client will be seeking but called them “substantial.” The case, Maghribi v. Advanced Micro Devices, C 92-1890-JF, is one of many similar complaints that have cropped up across the nation since the Sept. 11 attacks. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has received 1,041 religious discrimination complaints against Muslims since Sept. 11, more than double the number in the preceding 19-month period. And the EEOC has received 784 discrimination complaints involving individuals who are, or are perceived to be, of Middle Eastern or South Asian descent, a category the commission only began tracking after Sept. 11. But the Maghribi case stands out because of the allegations involving AMD’s top brass, Chairman W.J. “Jerry” Sanders III and President and Chief Executive Officer Hector Ruiz, both of whom are expected to take the stand during the trial this summer. According to the complaint, Sanders and Ruiz made a couple of discriminatory statements about Maghribi’s ethnicity and religion in October 2001. At a company dinner, Sanders allegedly asked Maghribi about his Lebanese background and expressed surprise when Maghribi informed him that he was both an Arab and a Muslim. “You can’t be. Lebanese are Christians,” Sanders allegedly told Maghribi. At a company function two days later, Ruiz allegedly related an anecdote about Arabs to Maghribi and his wife, which Maghribi deemed offensive. As president of AMD’s memory division, Maghribi was spearheading the negotiations of an important joint venture with another company during the same time period. While Sanders and Ruiz had previously expressed support for the structure of the deal, the complaint states that they began to change key terms of the deal without Maghribi’s input. According to the complaint, these actions meant that Maghribi was “constructively discharged,” that is, that the conditions of his employment were made so intolerable that he had no choice but to resign. In his order, Judge Fogel noted that a constructive discharge claim did not need to show that working conditions were more egregious than that which would support a hostile work environment claim. Citing a 2000 Ninth Circuit decision, Brooks v. City of San Mateo, 229 F.3d 917,922, Judge Fogel wrote that a constructive discharge claim must show conditions which are “extraordinary,” and “egregious.” “On the record before it,” Judge Fogel wrote, “the court concludes that there is at least a triable issue of fact as to whether plaintiff’s working conditions were intolerable.”

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