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California home improvement contractor employee alleges she was told to turn away Middle Eastern, Indian customers

By Marian Johns | Apr 23, 2019

OAKLAND, Calif. (Legal Newsline) – A California-based home improvement contractor is being sued by the federal government over claims by an employee that she was instructed to turn away customers perceived to be Middle Eastern or Indian.

According to a March 7 press release by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), Ayesha Faiz, an employee of Afghan descent who was hired by Fidelity Home Energy to make appointments with prospective customers, was told by her supervisors to turn away Middle Eastern or Indian people. 

Faiz alleges she also witnessed company practices designed to discriminate against those of Middle Eastern or Indian decent, including placing such people on a "do not call list" and "flagging" them in internal records so they would not get appointments, the EEOC said. The company's alleged practices led Faiz to emotional distress that caused her to quit her job, according to the EEOC.

"Employers cannot subject employees to a hostile working environment filled with discriminatory practices, even if those practices are directed at customers," EEOC Oakland local director Dana Johnson said in a statement. "Title VII protects employees from this type of national origin discrimination."

"Being required to reject customers based on national origin was unbearable for Ayesha Faiz," EEOC senior trial attorney Ami Sanghvi added in the statement. "No one should be required to discriminate as part of their job duties."

The EEOC is seeking lost wages and expenses, front pay, compensatory and punitive damages as well as injunctive relief from Fidelity's alleged discrimination practices.

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