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Bechtel Sued on 9/11 Discrimination Claim

October 03, 2003|From Associated Press

NEWARK, N.J. — Bechtel Corp., which stands to reap as much as $680 million in contracts to rebuild Iraq, is being sued by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which claims the company discriminated against and fired an Iraqi employee in New Jersey.

The suit, filed on behalf of Sahir Kizy of Royal Oak, Mich., on Tuesday in federal court in Newark, alleged the company did nothing to stop discrimination and harassment against him after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and fired him in June 2002.

The San Francisco-based company denies the accusations and says Kizy was let go after his temporary assignment ended.

Kizy, who worked as a site acquisition specialist at the company's Hackensack, N.J., facility, was hired June 29, 2001.

The lawsuit states that on Sept. 11, and continuing afterward, Kizy was subjected to physical attacks and was told to "go home to wherever you came from." Kizy is an Iraqi American.

He complained to Bechtel executives to no avail, and was excluded from meetings without justification, according to the lawsuit. Despite the continuing availability of work on a New York project, the suit asserts, Kizy was sent to his hotel room to await instructions on June 12, 2002, and was dismissed two days later.

Jonathan Marshall, a Bechtel spokesman, denied that the company discriminated against Kizy, calling the suit "without merit."

"It's just flat-out wrong that he was discriminated against," Marshall said. "We have a strong policy against discrimination. Bechtel has a number of Iraqis and Iraqi Americans on staff."

Bechtel was contracted by the American government to rebuild Iraq after the war and could receive $680 million.

The lawsuit is the EEOC's ninth claiming post-Sept. 11 discrimination.

Nearly 100 people who claimed such discrimination have received more than $1.6 million in compensation through the EEOC's enforcement, mediation, conciliation and litigation efforts.

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