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The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission


Egyptian Worker Subjected to Repeated Abuse, Federal Agency Charges

LAS VEGAS – The Sahara Hotel and Casino on the Las Vegas Strip violated federal law by creating a hostile work environment for an Egyptian kitchen employee through a daily barrage of derogatory comments due to his national origin and retaliating against him when he reported it, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit filed today.

According to the EEOC's complaint, the Sahara's supervisors and coworkers continuously belittled and harassed Ezzat Elias, whose job was delivering food from the kitchen to the hotel buffet and maintaining the buffet, because of his Egyptian heritage. The harassment included offensive comments, slurs, and graffiti, such as being called “Bin Laden,” “Taliban,” and “f ____ Egyptian” and being told to “go back to Egypt.” Elias was also targeted with graffiti, which he was then required to wash off. Despite Elias’s repeated complaints of such harassment, the defendants failed to take effective measures to stop it. Instead, supervisors retaliated against him, which included disciplinary write-ups and suspension.

National origin discrimination violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The EEOC filed the suit (EEOC v. Gordon Gaming dba Sahara Hotel and Casino, Stockbridge / SBE Holdings dba Sahara Hotel and Casino, Civil Action No Case 2:09-cv-01356-PMP-RJJ ) in U.S. District Court for the District of Nevada after first attempting to reach a voluntary settlement. The Commission seeks monetary damages for Elias, as well as injunctive relief to prevent such discrimination in the future.

"There is no excuse for such blatant and abusive behavior targeting workers on the basis of their national origin,” said EEOC Las Vegas Local Director Lucy Orta. “Employers must train their managers and frontline supervisors to prevent discrimination and to take prompt and effective action against harassment when it occurs."

EEOC Regional Attorney Anna Y. Park commented, "Employers only compound their problems when they fail to take discrimination complaints seriously. This allows harassment to escalate into retaliation. The EEOC takes retaliation very seriously because workers who speak up and speak out against unlawful discrimination should not be forced to endure more problems because they have done the right thing.”

The EEOC provides Technical Assistance Program Seminars throughout the country so that employers become aware of their responsibilities and voluntarily comply with federal employment discrimination laws. This year, the seminar in Las Vegas will be held on November 12-13, 2009, at the Green Valley Ranch Resort, Casino & Spa.

The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about the EEOC is available on the agency’s web site at

The EEOC’s Los Angeles District's jurisdiction includes Southern and Central California, Nevada, Hawaii, Guam, American Samoa, Wake Island and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands. For more information about the EEOC, please visit

This page was last modified on July 30, 2009.

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