Employee Responsibilities and Rights Journal

, Volume 22, Issue 4, pp 297–310 | Cite as

Post-9/11 Backlash in the Workplace: Employer Liability for Discrimination against Arab- and Muslim- Americans Based on Religion or National Origin

  • Stan MalosEmail author


In the wake of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, discrimination and violence directed toward American immigrants in general, and Arab- and Muslim-Americans in particular, increased markedly. Yet, despite a November, 2001 joint initiative undertaken by the EEOC, the Justice Department, and the Labor Department to increase sensitivity to and combat instances of potential discrimination or harassment against individuals who are—or are perceived to be—Muslim, Arab, Afghani, Middle Eastern, or South Asian, EEOC charge statistics for workplace discrimination claims involving religion, ethnicity, national origin, and citizenship indicate that the reported incidence of such conduct has continued to increase. This paper examines recent federal court cases that involve employment discrimination claims by Arab- and Muslim-Americans at both the trial court and appellate court levels to identify problematic fact patterns that may give rise to employer liability and to better understand judicial treatment of the legal issues when such cases are taken up on appeal. Management guidance for reducing potential liability when such situations arise in the workplace is developed based on recent findings in the case law. Analogous international implications are also discussed.

Key words

employment discrimination workplace harassment religion national origin Muslim-Americans Arab-Americans 



The author gratefully acknowledges research funding and support from the Donald and Sally Lucas Graduate School of Business, San Jose State University.


  1. Bansak, C. (2005). The differential wage impact of the Immigration Reform and Control Act on Latino ethnic subgroups. Social Science Quarterly, 86, 1279–1298.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Boas, H. H. (2007). The new face of America’s refugees: African refugee resettlement to the United States. Georgetown Immigration Law Journal, 21, 431–469.Google Scholar
  3. Cavanaugh, B. P. (2004). September 11 backlash employment discrimination. Journal of the Missouri Bar, 60, 186–194.Google Scholar
  4. Choudhury, C. A. (2008). Terrorists and Muslims: the construction, performance, and regulation of Muslim identities in the post 9/11 United States. Rutgers Journal of Law & Religion, 11, 1–32.Google Scholar
  5. EEOC (2008a). Questions and answers about employer responsibilities concerning the employment of Muslims, Arabs, South Asians, and Sikhs. Online: Scholar
  6. EEOC (2008b). Employment discrimination based on religion, ethnicity, or country of origin. Online: Scholar
  7. EEOC (2008c). Charge statistics, FY 1997-FY 2007. Online: Scholar
  8. Gandara, C. M. (2006). Post-9/11 backlash discrimination in the workplace: employers beware of potential double recovery. Houston Business and Tax Law Journal, 7, 169–201.Google Scholar
  9. Gohil, N. S., & Sidhu, D. S. (2008). The Sikh turban: post-911 challenges to this article of faith. Rutgers Journal of Law & Religion, 9, 10–41.Google Scholar
  10. Kelly, E. P. (2008). Accommodating religious expression in the workplace. Employee Responsibilities and Rights Journal, 20, 45–56.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Lopez, M. P. (2006). The intersection of immigration law and civil rights law: noncitizen workers and the international human rights paradigm. Brandeis Law Journal, 44, 611–644.Google Scholar
  12. Malos, S. B. (2007). Appearance-based sex discrimination and stereotyping in the workplace: whose conduct should we regulate? Employee Responsibilities and Rights Journal, 19, 95–111.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Rivera, J. (2007). An equal protection standard for national origin subclassifications: the context that matters. Washington Law Review, 82, 897–925.Google Scholar
  14. Roehling, M. V. (1993). “Extracting” policy from judicial opinions: the dangers of policy capturing in a field setting. Personnel Psychology, 46, 477–502.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Rosenblum, L. S. (2006). Mistakes in the making: the failure of U.S. immigration reform to protect the labor rights of undocumented workers. Human Rights Brief, 13, 23–38.Google Scholar
  16. Saucedo, L. M. (2006). The employer preference for the subservient worker and the making of the brown collar workplace. Ohio State Law Journal, 67, 961–998.Google Scholar
  17. White, E. B. (2007). How we treat our guests: mobilizing employment discrimination protections in a guest worker program. Berkeley Journal of Employment and Labor Law, 28, 269–304.Google Scholar
  18. Zaheer, B. (2007). Accommodating minority religions under Title VII: how Muslims make the case for a new interpretation of section 701(j). University of Illinois Law Review, 2007, 497–541.Google Scholar

U.S. District Court Cases

  1. Al-Aqrabawi v. Pierce County et al., Lexis 62352 (W.D. Wa. 2008)Google Scholar
  2. Doe v. City of New York, 583 F. Supp. 2d 444 (S.D.N.Y. 2008)Google Scholar
  3. EEOC v. Go Daddy Software, Inc., Lexis 44708 (D. Ariz. 2006)Google Scholar
  4. EEOC v. WC&M Enterprises, Lexis 36228 (S.D. Tex. 2005)Google Scholar
  5. El-Bakly v. Autozone, Inc., Lexis 1638 (N.D. Ill. 2009)Google Scholar
  6. El Sayed v. Hilton Hotels Corp., Lexis 62929 (S.D. N.Y. 2008)Google Scholar
  7. Heba v. New York State Division of Parole, 537 F. Supp. 2d 457 (E.D. N.Y. 2007)Google Scholar
  8. Ibrahim v. City of Houston, Texas, Lexis 57135 (S.D. Tex. 2008)Google Scholar
  9. Ibrahim v. City of Houston, Texas, Lexis 31735 (S.D. Tex. 2009)Google Scholar
  10. Lahricki v. Lumera Corp., Lexis 18556 (W.D. Wa. 2006)Google Scholar
  11. Mihoubi v. Caribou Coffee Company, Inc., Lexis 58902 (N.D. Ga. 2007)Google Scholar
  12. Omari v. Waste Gas Fabricating Co., Inc., Lexis 25421 (E.D. Pa. 2005)Google Scholar
  13. Sabra v. Shafer et al., Lexis 54614 (S.D. N.Y. 2008)Google Scholar
  14. Soliman v. Hillsborough School Dist., Lexis 37742 (M.D. Fla. 2008)Google Scholar
  15. Zayed v. Apple Computers, Lexis 20132 (N.D. Ca. 2006)Google Scholar

U.S. Circuit Courts of Appeal Cases

  1. Abdullahi v. Prada USA Corp., 520 F. 3d 710 (7th Cir. 2008)Google Scholar
  2. Baqir v. Principi, 434 F. 3d 733 (4th Cir. 2006)Google Scholar
  3. EEOC v. Sunbelt Rentals, Inc., 521 F. 3d 306 (4th Cir. 2008)Google Scholar
  4. Hasan v. Foley & Lardner LLP, 104 Fair Empl. Prac. Cas. (BNA) 1793 (7th Cir. 2008)Google Scholar
  5. Hussain v. R. James Nicholson, Secy., Dept. Veteran Affairs, 435 F. 3d 359 (D.C. Cir. 2006)Google Scholar

U.S. Supreme Court Cases

  1. Burlington Northern & Santa Fe Railway Co. v. White, 126 S. Ct. 2405 (2006)Google Scholar
  2. Crawford v. Metropolitan Government of Nashville, Tennessee, 129 S. Ct. 846 (2009)Google Scholar
  3. McDonnell Douglas v. Green, 411 U.S. 792 (1973)Google Scholar
  4. Meritor Savings Bank v. Vinson, 477 U.S. 57 (1986)Google Scholar
  5. Pennsylvania State Police v. Suders, 542 U.S. 129 (2004)Google Scholar
  6. TWA v. Hardison, 432 U.S. 63 (1977)Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Management/HRM, College of BusinessSan Jose State UniversitySan JoseUSA

Personalised recommendations