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Muslim man suing Oakville car dealership over alleged workplace racism

Last Updated Sep 17, 2015 at 7:42 pm EDT

A Milton man claims his Palestinian background and his Muslim beliefs made him a target of workplace discrimination at a well-known Oakville car dealership.

Maen Majel is suing Budds’ Chevrolet in Oakville for a total of $1.2-million. The former assistant parts manager filed a lawsuit based on allegations from 2010, claiming his supervisor often made derogatory comments about his religion in front of other employees.

“It was so disturbing to me that I became the joke of the dealership”, says Majel.

“I’ll be on the phone with a customer and they’ll start screaming and saying ‘Allahu Akbar’, which the meaning of that is ‘God is great’, in a loud way, where I had to put my hand on the phone and say to the customer hold on, and say ‘guys, stop, stop’”.

In another instance, the man claims he was assigned the temporary password “Bin Laden 1” to access an online parts accessory catalogue.

None of the allegations have been proven in court.

In a statement to CityNews, Chris Budd, dealer principal for Budds’ Chevrolet says “Because the matter is before the courts, we cannot comment on the particulars of this case, other than to say that these allegations are denied and are vigorously defended.”

Majel worked at the dealership for six years, mostly while it was under previous management. He claims the alleged harassment began shortly after Budds’ bought out the business.

According to the dealership’s Statement of Defence in the lawsuit, they do admit to the screen saver and password changes, but claim they were done in jest, in an environment where jokes were often made among co-workers. In the case of the “Bin Laden 1” password, their defence states passwords can be changed by the holder at any time. It adds “…at no time did he object. This was consistent with his own willingness to joke about the stereotypical terrorist”.

“I did not think it was funny, I didn’t give them any indication it was funny,” Majel claims.

The company also claims Majel jokingly referred to himself as a terrorist, something he denies.