A Pizza Hut area manager in the state of New Jersey is being sued by three employees for discrimination and retaliation, and the lawsuit against her also names the chain itself for violations of both state and federal laws. The suit is being filed by three Egyptian-American employees who cite a number of instances of flagrant discriminatory behavior against them and others, including firing one of them after being confronted about her comments.
The suit names Karen Ryan as the area manager that both Ahmed Ahmed and Joseph Hafez reported to as managers of Pizza Hut locations in South Plainfield, New Jersey and Edison, New Jersey. Both men reported to Ryan since 2015 when she was appointed to the position, and both report that she referred to them as “brothers” because of their shared background. They also recount instances of her making derogatory statements about Islam after one of the two opted out of tasting a new product that the restaurant was offering because it contained pork. When Hafez indicated that his religion forbids him to eat the hot-dog stuffed-crust pizza, Ryan’s response was to say, “That’s a stupid religion.” In another episode the area manager was introduced to an employee with a recognizably Hispanic name and responded by saying, “Segundo? What kind of name is that? We name people John, Jason. This is America.”
The lawsuit indicates that following these behaviors, Hafez approached Ryan regarding her comments and that three months later she was fired, and told Ahmed that supporting the discrimination claims against her would also be a mistake for him. She reportedly said, “That wouldn’t be good for you.” One month later she fired Ahmed.
Though in most cases employees are employed at will and can be fired for almost any reason, those reasons cannot include discrimination or retaliation. The state of New Jersey’s NJLAD (New Jersey Law Against Discrimination) provides specific legal protections for employees in these situations, and the federal government does as well: employees can’t be fired for filing a complaint, and they cannot be discriminated against. Employers are also in violation of the law if they allow or perpetrate a hostile work environment based upon a protected characteristic. If you are a victim of this type of discrimination or have been fired as a result of objecting to discrimination, then you need the help of an experienced employment discrimination attorney.
If you have been the subject of workplace discrimination based on your race, national origin or other personal characteristic, or you have been punished or retaliated against as a result of complaining about it, please call us. Our experienced and knowledgeable employment law attorneys at Schorr & Associates will work hard to achieve justice for you.