Did Supervisor Manufacture Reasons to Fire Middle-Eastern Staffer?
Man told to ‘go work at 7-11 with your own kind’
Sometimes discrimination is obvious. More often than not, though, it plays out in subtle ways: denied opportunities, extra scrutiny, or snide comments that may reveal underlying prejudices.
In the meantime, the victims may feel like they have to perform to a higher standard and, most importantly, hold their tongues rather than risk losing their jobs.
New Manager Made Life Difficult
That’s what happened to Hassen Almaweri, a 53-year old Middle Eastern man, who had worked his way up to the position of store manager at Walgreen’s pharmacy.
Almaweri was in charge of a store branch for 11 years. During that time, he received three warnings for poor performance, including one verbal warning from the district manager for the “poor condition of his store.” However, the supervisor also stated that Almaweri was the best person to manage the store location and that he was “a warrior in the toughest store in the district.”
Corporate representatives from Walgreen’s visited Almaweri’s store several times to observe procedures that he’d implemented to successfully reduce theft. Almaweri was also commended for having the best cash handling, the best photo department, and the best pharmacy in the district.
But things changed when Almaweri started reporting to a new district manager named Gorman Moy. According to store employees, Moy visited the location frequently and “nit picked whatever he could.”
On at least one occasion he asked Almaweri to repeat himself because he couldn’t understand his accent. An employee reported being taken aback at the incident because of Moy’s condescending tone and because she’d never had trouble understanding Almaweri.
Almaweri was transferred to a new store that had a lower volume of sales. There, Moy told Almaweri that he was “too old” to be a store manager. He stated that Moy wouldn’t make it in the future because he was too slow to pick up on things and that “rookie” managers were preferred.
Moy continued to ridicule Almaweri about his accent, frequently asking him to repeat himself.
Emilio Alonso, a “community leader supervisor” for Walgreen’s, told Almaweri that he should work at 7-11 with his “kind of people.”
Despite Almaweri’s new store far out-performing other stores in the area, he was put on a performance improvement plan (PIP). Moy stated that Almaweri wasn’t doing enough to develop team members and keep the store in good condition, among other things.
After months of being on and off the PIP, Almaweri was called to a meeting with Moy — ostensibly to discuss the goals of the PIP. However, Moy refused to go over the objectives, saying that Almaweri was “worth nothing.”
Almaweri became angry and raised his voice. He explained that the outburst was the result of years of frustration at being discriminated against.
He was fired shortly after that.
Almaweri spoke to a lawyer and sued for national-origin and age discrimination.
The company tried to have the case thrown out. It claimed that Almaweri was fired because he’d been unable to meet his supervisor’s standards.
But the court disagreed. It found that Almaweri raised enough questions to allow the case to proceed to a jury trial.
(The case discussed here is Almaweri v. Walgreens Specialty Pharmacy.)
What It Means to You
If you or someone you know has been treated unfairly on the job due to race or national origin, it’s good idea to speak to attorney to discuss your rights under the law.
Email us at email@example.com, or call (267) 273-1054 for a free consultation.