If you are like any other San Diego resident, you have probably dreaded going to work at one time or another. Maybe your infant kept you up all night and you barely got any sleep before the alarm clock went off. Perhaps you felt nervous about giving a presentation in front of your boss. Or maybe your co-worker was bothering you with office drama and you just didn't want to hear it anymore.
It is easy to let the little things bug us, but every now and then we are reminded of how awful things really can get for some employees in California and throughout the entire U.S. when employers fail to protect the rights of their workers. Fortunately, these workers can take legal action if their employers have violated any employee rights and protections.
Last week, AT&T was finally held accountable for fostering a hostile work environment after one woman filed a religious discrimination lawsuit against the company. The employee claimed that she endured years of harassment while working at the company before she was fired.
According to the lawsuit, the woman had worked at AT&T for several years before she converted to Islam in 2005. After she converted, she began to experience religious discrimination and harassment by co-workers and supervisors.
The woman called the company's help line for employees shortly after converting to Islam. Despite requesting better training for employees regarding discrimination in the workplace, the woman claimed that nothing was done to improve the environment. After months of discrimination, she even requested to be transferred to a different location, but AT&T failed to respond to the employee's requests.
In 2008, the woman said that she could no longer go to work because the discrimination and harassment continued. She was eventually fired by AT&T.
Last week, a jury concluded that AT&T had failed to protect the woman's rights. The jury awarded the woman $5 million in punitive damages, lost wages and other damages. According to reports, AT&T will appeal the jury's decision.
Source: The Kansas City Star, "AT&T to pay Muslim woman $5M in harassment case," May 5, 2012