Home Improvement Contractor Discriminated Against Customers, Created Hostile Work Environment for Afghan Employee
SAN FRANCISCO, CA – San Leandro-based home improvement contractor Fidelity Home Energy, Inc. violated federal law by creating a hostile work environment due to national origin that ultimately caused an employee to quit, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit filed today.
According to the EEOC’s lawsuit, within her first week as a representative services supervisor responsible for making appointments with potential customers, Ayesha Faiz, a female of Afghan descent, learned Fidelity had a practice of rejecting all customers perceived to be Middle Eastern or Indian. She observed supervisors placing such people on the ‘do not call’ list and flagging their records in the internal database to disqualify them from getting appointments. In three weeks of employment, Faiz was asked to turn away potential customers of Middle Eastern or Indian descent almost daily, either personally or by proxy through her subordinates. Despite raising her concerns to other supervisors, Faiz never learned the reasoning behind the practice. Ultimately, the distress of following a company practice requiring her to discriminate for no justifiable reason caused Faiz to quit, informing company officials it made her sick to know the company refused services based on ethnicity.
Such alleged conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 which prohibits employers from discriminating based on national origin.
The EEOC filed suit (Civil #:19-cv-01231) in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its voluntary conciliation process.
The EEOC’s lawsuit seeks lost wages and expenses, front pay, compensatory and punitive damages and injunctive relief designed to prevent such discrimination in the future.
“Employers cannot subject employees to a hostile working environment filled with discriminatory practices, even if those practices are directed at customers. Title VII protects employees from this type of national origin discrimination,” said EEOC Oakland Local Director Dana Johnson.
EEOC Senior Trial Attorney Ami Sanghvi said, “Being required to reject customers based on national origin was unbearable for Ayesha Faiz. No one should be required to discriminate as part of their job duties. Title VII’s prohibitions against national origin discrimination are increasingly more important and this much is clear. Employers must keep workplaces from being polluted by discrimination.”
Fidelity Home Energy, headquartered in San Leandro, is a family-owned and operated business providing homeowners with energy-efficient products and in-home installation services.
The EEOC advances opportunity in the workplace by enforcing federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. More information is available at www.eeoc.gov. Stay connected with the latest EEOC news by subscribing to our email updates.