Man Says Discrimination Was Behind Firing Carol Stream Man Files Suit Claiming Religous Harassment after Sept. 11

By Gutowski, Christy | Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL), January 5, 2005 | Go to article overview

Man Says Discrimination Was Behind Firing Carol Stream Man Files Suit Claiming Religous Harassment after Sept. 11


Gutowski, Christy, Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL)


Byline: Christy Gutowski Daily Herald Legal Affairs Writer

A Carol Stream man fired from a manufacturing company is accusing his former employer of religious discrimination in retaliation for the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

Syed Abbas filed a federal lawsuit this week alleging his dismissal on March 3, 2003, was motivated by prejudice rather than job performance.

The 40-year-old man began working for AFI Industries in Carol Stream in May 1994 shortly after arriving in the United States from Pakistan. Abbas maintains he was a hard worker who often put in overtime.

The harassment began, he alleges, after Sept. 11, 2001, when a co-worker repeatedly called him a terrorist while his supervisor drew laughs at the factory by creating a drawing of Abbas labeled "wanted."

The supervisor even threatened that the CIA and FBI were watching him and warned that someone would break into his home and shoot him, the suit alleges.

"I felt so alone," Abbas said Tuesday in a telephone interview. "I felt scared ... and very stressed a lot."

An official with AFI Industries declined comment. The company makes screws and other fasteners.

Abbas, a father of four children, ages 12 to 8, said he came to the United States for a "better future." He made about $45,000 a year before his dismissal. Things were fine at work, he said, but that changed after Sept. 11.

A supervisor repeatedly told him he was dangerous and that no more Pakistanis would be hired full time, the suit alleges. He also maintains his boss gave him more difficult assignments and reduced overtime hours.

At that time, Abbas had a part-time job delivering pizzas. …

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