ALEXANDRIA, Va. – Rugo Stone, LLC, a Fairfax County, Virginia-based stone contracting company that has worked on a variety of high-profile buildings in Washington, D.C., violated federal law by subjecting a male employee to harassment based on his national origin, religion and color, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit filed today.
According to the EEOC’s complaint, from around January 2007 through around January 2009, Shazad Buksh, an estimator and assistant project manager for Rugo Stone, was subjected to derogatory comments from his supervisors, project manager and the company’s owner on the basis of his national origin (Pakistan), religion (Islam), and color (brown). The comments occurred almost daily and included things like being called a “Paki-princess;” and being told he was the same color as human feces. On one occasion, Buksh’s supervisor exited a bathroom at Rugo Stone, placed a cup containing feces on Buksh’s desk, and told Buksh that his skin looked like the feces that were in the cup. The lawsuit also alleges that Buksh was told that his religion (Islam), was “f---ing backwards,” “f---ing crazy,” and was asked why Muslims are such “monkeys.” On one occasion, Buksh was shown a video of a man being hanged in Iran and at the same time was told that the activity depicted on the video was “cool” and that Buksh’s “country and religion does it this way.” The complaint alleges that Buksh complained about the conduct and comments, but the harassment continued.
Harassment based on national origin, religion, and/or skin color violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The EEOC filed suit in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, Alexandria Division (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. Rugo Stone, LLC, Civil Action No. 1:11-cv-915) after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. The agency seeks compensatory and punitive damages for Buksh, as well as injunctive relief.
“Employers need to remember that federal law prohibits workplace harassment,” said Lynette A. Barnes, regional attorney for EEOC’s Charlotte District, whose jurisdiction includes Virginia. “The treatment Mr. Buksh allegedly endured is disturbing. The EEOC is here to protect workers from employment discrimination, including harassment.”
The EEOC is responsible for enforcing federal laws prohibiting discrimination in employment. Further information about the EEOC is available on its web site at www.eeoc.gov.