via DailyMail: A New York man is suing Bed Bath & Beyond, claiming he was fired for being Muslim and having a beard.
Jose Alcantara also claims that his coworkers would called him ‘terrorist’.
The 48-year-old says he converted to Muslim after his mother-in-law was diagnosed with cancer, The New York Daily News reported.
However he was soon approached by a HR representative who asked him: ‘What’s going on with your beard?’
New York man Jose Alcantara, 48 (right, with his fiancee), says he feels ‘betrayed’ and ‘stabbed in the back’ by the way his coworkers treated him due to his religion and is seeking damages.
‘When I was being called a terrorist, it made me question everything — my religion, my beliefs, myself,’ Alcantara told the Daily News.
‘These were people I trusted and was trying to develop a relationship with.
‘I felt really betrayed. They stabbed me in the back.’
Alcantara says he was eventually let go for missing some work days.
However he contends that his roster was wrongly doctored by a manager.
Alcantara started at the Bed Bad & Beyond at W.65th St in October 2012.
He was hired as a department manager with an annual salary of $47,000.
He said he initially really enjoyed going to work and that everyone was nice.
However that changed, he says, when he started to grow his beard.
Alcantara turned to religion to help himself with dealing with his mother-in-law’s battle with cancer.
He said that, after telling the HR department he was growing his beard after converting, that the attitude of coworkers towards him immediately changed.
One began greeting him by saying: ‘Good morning, terrorist. How are you terrorist?’
Another worker also started calling him ‘terrorist’, even after Alcantara asked both to stop.
He said that a few months later he was called into a meeting with HR and asked whether he was ‘seriously following the Muslim religion’.
The HR rep said the store manager had asked her to investigate.
Alcantara told the rep that he was a practicing Muslim and there was no problem.
However he said that the store manager became ‘short-tempered, abrupt and extremely hostile’ toward him afterwards.
In November 2013, Alcantara requested to vacation time between December 23 to January 2, 2014.
He said he was also given January 4 and 5 off work.
However upon returning, Alcantara says he was fired not showing up for work on January 3.
‘I just wanted to work and take care of my family,’ Alcantara said.
‘I never thought that I was going to get fired over this.’
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission investigated the case and, in July, ruled that the store had discriminated against Alcantara based on his religion, issuing him a ‘right to sue letter’.
Bed Bath & Beyond issued a statement to The Daily News over the lawsuit.
‘Bed Bath & Beyond strictly prohibits any form of harassment or unlawful discrimination. We disagree with the characterization of the separation that was provided. We will respond to this matter in the appropriate forum, should any further legal action be taken,’ the statement said.
The lawsuit was filed in Manhattan Supreme Court.
The date of the trail has not been set.