- A jury has rejected a former Amazon employee's claims that he was subjected to discrimination on the basis of his national origin and religion, and then retaliated against after complaining to both HR and CEO Jeff Bezos personally (Haydar v. Amazon Corporate, LLC, No. 2:16-cv-13662 (E.D. Mich. Nov. 5, 2019)).
- Abdullah Haydar is a U.S. citizen of Syrian descent and a practicing Muslim. He alleged he excelled in his job as a technology manager at Amazon but was "repeatedly subjected to demeaning comments directed at his national origin, religion, and marital status, given false and derogatory performance reviews, passed over for promotion in favor of less successful Caucasian peers, and denied transfers and other career opportunities." Haydar said he repeatedly complained to HR, "to no avail," and emailed Jeff Bezos twice after the CEO invited any employees with complaints about their working conditions to do so. Haydar said he never heard back from Bezos and was terminated soon after.
- A jury concluded that Haydar failed to prove that his religion and/or national origin were either the sole reason for his termination, or a motivating factor in the decision. The jury also rejected his allegation that Amazon failed to promote him.
National origin discrimination, according to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), involves treating applicants or employees unfavorably because they are from a particular country or part of the world, because of ethnicity or accent, or because they appear to be of a certain ethnic background — even if they aren't.
It can also involve treating people unfavorably because they are married to (or associated with) a person of a certain national origin. Additionally, illegal discrimination can occur even if the target of the abuse and the perpetuator are of the same national origin. As in the Amazon case, claims of national origin discrimination often overlap with allegations of religious discrimination.
In addition to creating a workplace culture that values and supports diversity, training for supervisors and managers on legal compliance can help reduce allegations of unfair treatment in the workplace. Additionally, all complaints should be investigated promptly, experts say, and supervisors and managers should know never to retaliate against an applicant or employee who raises a complaint.