A new federal suit against Halliburton Energy Services Inc. accuses the company of subjecting two Muslim employees to a hostile work environment, in which they were criticized for their cultural attire and taunted about their ethnicity.
The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission sued Halliburton on Tuesday in Dallas federal district court. The complaint was based on claims from two oil-field workers, Hassan Snoubar, who is Syrian, and Mir Ali, who is Indian. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act prohibits employers from discriminating based on national origin and religion.
“Both Snoubar and Ali were regularly made to suffer insults by other employees, including supervisors who criticized their cultural attire, made demeaning remarks about their appearance, identified them with terrorism, and even claimed their ‘people’ engaged in bestiality,” according to the complaint.
A Halliburton representative did not immediately respond to a request for comment. K&L Gates employment and labor counsel Bridget Blinn-Spears in Raleigh, a lawyer for Halliburton, wasn’t immediately reached for comment.
Insults from other employees were broadcast on radio headsets used at the work site, the EEOC said in the complaint. “One of defendant’s supervisors used the company radio to refer to both Snoubar and Ali as ‘terrorist,’” according to the complaint.
The agency said Snoubar, who had worked for Halliburton since 2012, expressed concerns over workplace conduct to management and human resources. The EEOC said he was fired in 2015.
“Passivity in the face of this kind of abuse is certainly enough for an employer to be held accountable, but the participation by supervisors in the mean-spirited degradation of an employee’s ethnic heritage and faith is unconscionable as well as unlawful,” EEOC Dallas District Regional Attorney Robert Canino said in a statement. “The oil field environment is not to be a free-fire zone for destructive energy in the form of open bigotry.”
There was an uptick in discrimination claims involving Muslim and Middle Eastern workers following the September 11 terrorist attacks, according to EEOC statistics. The EEOC has continued to target the area of religious discrimination and national origin.
The suit against Halliburton asks a federal judge to order the company to, among other things, “provide equal employment opportunities for Hassan Snoubar and Mir Ali which eradicate the effects of its past and present unlawful employment practices.”
The complaint is posted below: