Muslim Waiter Sues Waldorf Over Alleged Bias, Claims It Worsened After Osama Death

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    NEWSLETTERS

    A man who's worked at the Waldorf for the last 29 years is now suing because he says he's faced discrimination since 9/11. (Published Wednesday, May 4, 2011)

    Mohamed Kotbi is a banquet waiter at the Waldorf-Astoria. The 29-year employee says work was fine until September 13, 2001 when his boss changed his name tag from Mohamed to “John” for a company’s 9/11 memorial gathering. Kotbi was told his name was scaring guests away.

    Kotbi claims that name change stayed for years and his multiple visits to human resources did nothing to fix his work environment  -- an atmosphere that he claims becomes discriminatory whenever there’s news of Iraq, Afghanistan, or terrorism.

    He filed a bias lawsuit on Friday against the Waldorf-Astoria, alleging the hotel fostered a hostile work environment. He says the taunts from co-workers have grown worse since Osama bin Laden was killed on Sunday.

    Kotbi claims co-workers have said, “Oh they killed your brother.”

    The hotel tells NBC New York it categorically denies all of Kotbi’s charges.

    Kotbi's complaints of increased harassment since bin Laden's death aren't unique. Cyrus McGoldrick, who works at the Council on American Islamic Relations, says the organization has received many complaints since Sunday night about alleged anti-Muslim bullying at local schools.

    One of the cases involved a 9-year-old at a Westchester elementary school.

    The boy’s mother says her son has been bullied in the past about being Muslim. She said a recent incident this week where another child pretended to point a gun at the third grader while exclaiming, “Oh shoot him,” was the worst case yet.

    That mother says she is working with the school to address the bullying.

    You can follow Katy on Twitter @KatyTur4NY