A former Whole Foods Market Muslim employee in Boston who sought refuge in the U.S. after fleeing his native Iraq is suing the retailer after he says he endured months of anti-Muslim discrimination from co-workers. Whole Foods management allegedly told Siddeeq to get ‘thicker skin.’
Whole Foods should have learned its lesson about hiring Muslims back in 2011: Worker says he was fired from supermarket chain because he is Muslim
BizJournals Emad Siddeeq, a Revere resident and a former full-time employee at the Whole Foods Ink Block location in the South End, filed a lawsuit in federal court in Boston on Tuesday accusing the Austin, Texas-based supermarket chain of not doing enough to stop harassment by co-workers that occurred “nearly every shift [he] worked.”
According to the complaint, Siddeeq, who is Muslim and from Iraq, says he started working at Whole Foods (Nasdaq: WFM) on or around August 21, 2013. On or around January 5, 2015, Siddeeq began working at the newly opened Ink Block Whole Foods location in the South End.
The complaint accuses two employees of “calling him vile and disgusting names … simply because Siddeeq is Muslim and from Iraq.” Siddeeq was called a “terrorist” or “Muslim terrorist” by the duo “more times than he can remember,” the lawsuit alleges.
The two allegedly would also tell Siddeeq on a regular basis that he was going to “blow up” Ink Block “because he was a Muslim terrorist.” When the two saw customers at Ink Block that appeared to be of Arab descent or Muslim, they would tell Siddeeq that those customers were also terrorists, just like him, the complaint states.
The attacks escalated from verbal to physical, the complaint states. One one occasion, one of the employees snuck up behind Siddeeq and deliberately pushed a hand jack into Siddeeq’s leg, causing Siddeeq to suffer a foot injury. One of the employees was “laughing at Siddeeq when Siddeeq fell to the ground.”
In the 10-month span Siddeeq worked at the Ink Block, the lawsuit states, Siddeeq complained a total of six times to his supervisor and other managers that he was being discriminated and harassed. However, no remedial action was ever taken, according to the complaint.
Siddeeq says Whole Foods management actually witnessed the discrimination Siddeeq faced. “Essentially, Whole Foods management told Siddeeq to get ‘thicker skin’ over the revolting hate speech spewed by [the employees],” the complaint states.
Siddeeq says he has suffered significant emotional distress because of the harassment and has been under professional medical care and prescribed medication for the emotional distress he faced. (Oh, Boo Hoo, get over your self-important self)
Whole Foods, which denied the allegations in a statement, said that “we celebrate the diversity of our team members, which spans countless cultures, races, religions and sexual orientations. We pride ourselves on creating a workplace that is inclusive and safe and we have routinely been recognized as a top place to work.”
“Whole Foods Market has a zero tolerance policy for any form of harassment and we take allegations of such extremely seriously,” the statement continued.
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